Hub hits ground's income

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor
Operators of the Luggate Camping Ground say the Red Bridge camping hub offering tourists free facilities has cost their operation at least $10,000 in lost revenue over the summer and, as a result, it is wondering how to pay for a new sewerage connection.

The camping ground is run by the Luggate-Albion Cricket Club for the benefit of nine cricket teams.

It charges $10 per night and $2 for a five-minute shower, and has capacity for 52 campers.

However, president Mike O'Connor said on Monday the camping ground's revenue was down by about 40% because of the hub at the nearby Red Bridge, and it had no other source of revenue.

The hub was funded by the Government, which gave the Queenstown Lakes District Council $530,000 last summer to provide a range of free facilities across the district to reduce the problem of tourists freedom camping and consequently leaving a mess behind them.

More than 50 vans used the Red Bridge hub on some nights.

Mr O'Connor said because of the drop in revenue, the Luggate camping ground would struggle to pay for the connection to the new sewerage system linking it to the council's Project Pure treatment plant.

It had recently spent $100,000 on new showers and toilets and the connection for those facilities, which required a new 150m sewer line, was expected to cost thousands of dollars.

''We knew it would happen at some time, but we didn't know our revenue was going to be cut back the way it has.''

Mr O'Connor said he hoped the council would be willing to consider deferring payment.

In May, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced the Government would provide 28 local authorities with another $8.5million over summer this year.

A council spokesman said an application had been made to the Tourism Infrastructure Fund but there had been no announcement yet.

Mr O'Connor believed the council should charge a small fee to camper van tourists for using the hubs.

''Do France, Israel, Canada, Australia or Germany provide a place to stay overnight - where you can dump your rubbish and have ablutions - for free?''

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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