BridgeClimb CEO ditched as climber numbers drop

Chris Zumwalt, the chief executive of Sydney’s BridgeClimb, has been booted by its operator after just 18 months in the role.

The Hammons family, which also runs the Blue Mountains’ Scenic World theme park, took over BridgeClimb in October 2018 after winning a NSW Roads & Maritime Services (RMS) tender.

The Hammons tapped Zumwalt for the job of running the highly popular attraction following his successful tenure as Scenic World’s chief operating officer.

But a steady decline in climber numbers, which have been exacerbated by the recent bushfires, sealed Zumwalt’s fate.

“The Board thanks Chris for his contribution and valuable leadership of the BridgeClimb team over the past 18 months, and his extensive contributions to Hammons Holdings over the past 12 years,” the family said in a statement.

The attraction had seen a 15 to 20 per cent year-on-year decline in climbers. According to a report in the Australian Financial Review, the replacement of the original marketing team resulted in less effective international marketing, particularly in the Indian market.

Another issue was the increase in fees the new operator had to pay to the NSW Government, which were three times the previous ones. The Hammons were also liable for increased bridge maintenance fees and had to pay the RMS a bigger cut of their revenue, according to sources.