Two iconic Marlborough families have joined forces to boost year-round tourism to the region.
Half of Marlborough Tour Company, established more than 20 years ago by Chris and Sue Godsiff who still own it today, has been purchased by a company principally owned by Barbara, Cathy, Trevor and Dennis Burkhart Family Trusts along with a smaller holding by Nikki and Tony de Reeper.
Dennis and Trevor will become board directors and Tony will fill the CFO position, but not be actively involved in day-to-day operations, says Chris.
“It’s business as usual for us, but what this purchase means is that all the things we have dreamed of doing at Marlborough Tour Company, we can now do.”
Chris says the decision to sell 50% of their successful high-end tourism business stemmed from a desire to bring more of Marlborough to the tourism market, all year round. “We want to make the most of the quieter months in Marlborough, as often these seasons bring the best weather for visitors to enjoy. We want to expose that hidden treasure.”
“While it’s always good when you own 100% of a business, I believe in this case we’re better off owning 50% of something when it means there is a high potential for greater success. This is good for Marlborough Tour Company, and it is great for Marlborough and all the opportunities it brings.”
Already, Marlborough Tour Company have won an important contract with US travel company Tauck, which runs high-end trips through New Zealand, to bring visitors to Marlborough for a two-night stay rather than the more standard one-day tour.
“This would bring about 2,500 additional visitors to Marlborough each year with a guaranteed two-night stay at Chateau Marlborough. This opportunity to host a regular stream of high-end international visitors is very exciting for our entire region,” says Chris.
The Burkharts, widely-known for their local pioneering live lobster exporting company, were the perfect fit as both families have been influential in the community for many years through business, tourism and financial contributions. They also share a background as pioneers in Marlborough’s seafood industry, with Marlborough Tour Company born from tours to the Godsiffs’ mussel farms out of Havelock.
Importantly they have a deep passion for the region and a true willingness to see growth and success for Marlborough’s tourism industry, Chris says.
Dennis Burkhart says his family had previously invested in other areas of Marlborough’s tourism industry and felt Marlborough Tour Company and its crew would fit well with their family and associated enterprises.
“We are companies, people and families cut from similar cloths and backgrounds.”
Dennis says the next year will bring a lot of hard work to plan and map out pathways to secure a longer term strategic vision for Marlborough Tour Company to achieve their goals.
“We are very much looking forward to working with the Marlborough Tour Company team and relish the opportunity to work alongside passionate families and crew. Together, the future looks very exciting.”
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Our launch Tarquin has made it into uber-luxe Luxury Magazine.
Marlborough Tour Company's Godsiff family and company luxury launch Tarquin have been featured in the Marlborough Express.
Originally mussel farmers, Chris says people thought they were barmy, giving up a stable primary industry to get into a fledging industry like tourism. He says they all laughed and said no-one would come, what was here to see?
Now, 20 year later, he gets to have the last laugh with a thriving business recently renamed Marlborough Tour Company, specialising in seafood cruises and wine tours, and with an impressive fleet of cars, vans, buses and boats providing entertainment for private and corporate guests from New Zealand and across the globe.
According to Chris, the business has just sort of grown by itself over the years; he describes the Godsiff business style as "mostly seat of the pants stuff" with a big dose of hard work and fantastic customer service.
Chris has always been inspired by self-made people and has often modelled himself on them. He says that anything new in the business is usually a result of him being bored and wanting a new project.Chris' latest project is probably the biggest gamble of all; MV Tarquin is a 20-metre luxury launch with three ensuited rooms aimed at the high-end day cruise and overnight cruise market. He says the boat supplements the cruises they already offer in the Marlborough Sounds, but this is the first time they've got into accommodation.
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