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The multimillionaire owner of a $10,000-a-night Queenstown hotel is lobbying the Queensland government for a bail-out as he grapples with a debt of more than $9.6 million.
It comes a month after Andrew Cox’s Adventium Technology Group announced it would be seeking to raise $12.53 million fresh capital by early May to pay debts owed by its company, Website Travel.
It is understood these debts in both New Zealand and Australia remain outstanding.
In April, the Otago Daily Times reported Mr Cox’s company, Website Travel, owed Queenstown tourism operators hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As a result of that story, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said more businesses had contacted him and he believed the company, an online platform that facilitates the booking of chartered flights, excursion tours and other activities, owed more than $1 million to Queenstown tourist operators .
Mr Walker said the “horrific” debts were an example of why such “middlemen” were not welcome in Queenstown if there was to be a sustainable tourism sector in the resort.
“Of the operators I have been dealing with, one is owed half a million, another is owed $200,000, another $100,000, another $40,000.
“I would estimate this guy owes, for the ones I know about, in the early millions.”
Website Travel normally takes a commission from a customer then passes the rest of the money to the tour operator.
The company took advantage of an Australian Government-backed ‘‘debt hibernation scheme’’, meaning operators were not paid.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones told ABC News on Tuesday her message to Mr Cox was “very clear”.
‘‘We expect you to pay these tourism businesses for the work they have done.”
She said to get any more funding from the Government he would have to prove the company was a going concern and that any loan could be repaid.
Mr Cox is also the owner of Imperium Collection Ltd, which runs the upmarket hotels Spire Hotel and Eichardts Private Hotel in Queenstown, where the penthouse suite costs $10,000 a night.
A public relations spokesman for Mr Cox’s companies said Imperium was a “completely separate business’’ to Adventium and there would be “no knock-on effect”.
He added both hotels would be open for food, drinks and accommodation this weekend.
He noted capital raising and restructuring was under way with a view to settling all operator claims and refunds in full as soon as possible.