The government’s ‘last straw’ tourism plan for Canterbury’s Leopard Coachlines

Brent Early, managing director of Leopard Coachlines, told clients of his sadness at having to call in liquidators.

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Brent Early, managing director of Leopard Coachlines, told clients of his sadness at having to call in liquidators.

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“> Leopard Coachlines has been put into liquidation, with chief executive Brent Early calling the government’s tourism reopening plan a “last straw” that broke the camel’s back.

In a letter to suppliers on Thursday, Early said: “It is with great regret and sadness that after 30 years of operating Leopard Coachlines, I must announce that today I have made the very difficult decision to place the company in voluntary liquidation.

The business could not continue to operate after nearly two years of Covid-19 restrictions, which had devastated the tourism industry, he said.

“Covid-19 and the absence of international tourism has resulted in 23 months of transactions on less than 10% of our normal pre-Covid monthly revenue. The continued losses have become too much to bear and it is now impossible to continue”, did he declare.

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“We had been waiting for a plan from the government around firm deadlines for the opening of borders and for the return of tourism from safe countries,” Early said.

“However, the government’s plan for international visitors which requires isolation on arrival has decimated any chance of recovery in 2022, especially when overseas visitors have the opportunity to travel almost anywhere else in the world without this cost and the waste of their vacation time.

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“It was just the final straw at the end of a very tough and challenging time for all of us.”

This may not be the end of the line for the Leopard Coachlines brand.

Early said PWC liquidator Malcolm Hollis plans to continue operating the business as normal for a short time to allow time to find a buyer to take it over.

Leopard Coachlines saw its business collapse by 90% as Covid-19 restrictions devastated the tourism sector.

Provided

Leopard Coachlines saw its business collapse by 90% as Covid-19 restrictions devastated the tourism sector.

“As a result, all current bookings for the immediate future will operate as normal,” Early said.

“I want to sincerely thank all of our loyal and wonderful customers, some of you whom we have served for over 20 years without interruption, for your support and business,” he said.

“It has been the greatest pleasure and honor to have had your trust and loyalty for so long and I wish you all the best for your future.”

In July, Early said Thing he feared for the future of the company.

It said the majority of its 60 buses and coaches had been idle for the past 18 months.

“A lot of us are just bleeding to death,” Early said. “There’s not really an option for us. Domestic tourism is not an option for us because Kiwis don’t go on coach holidays.

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