Iconic Napier attraction Trainworld is set to close its doors for good after Waitangi Day unless owner John Burt can find a "saviour" to take over the business.
The last 12 months have been devastating for the model railway centre after burglaries over three straight nights in December 2019 before Covid-19 struck and forced Burt to close for almost two months.
He said Trainworld has not recovered from that, especially with the loss of international and cruise ship visitors.
"I don't want to see it lost any more than anyone else does, but quite frankly local people in the Hawke's Bay do not support it well enough for me to keep it going, and we're not going to see international visitors of any sort, cruise ships or anything, for another couple of years," Burt said.
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His stage three cancer diagnosis in October 2020 made the final decision to close for good very easy, even though he loves Trainworld when it's busy.
"The pleasure and the fun I see that the kids are having makes coming to work here a joy," Burt said.
Trainworld opened in its Dickens St CBD location in 2003, and Burt said because it doesn't make any money (although it paid for itself pre-Covid), the business is a "labour of love" for those who run it.
He hopes someone who loves and has knowledge of model trains, has an independent income and would like to keep the historic attraction open to the public will come and have a chat with him about taking over.
"I just want someone who will love it and look after it," Burt said.
Alongside Trainworld is the Trainworld Model & Hobby store which he plans to relocate in the inner city.
Among the model railways on display at Trainworld are Brookie the ride-on train, Thomas the Tank Engine and the historic array of collector's items and toy trainware, including the Lilliput collection, which dates back 70 years and is owned by the Napier City Council.