Wellington, Sunday, June 11, 2017
Tourism data shows greater Christchurch is back on the itinerary for many international visitors but Christchurch still has some work to do replenishing its accommodation stocks, the latest Greater Christchurch Dashboard — Tourism looks at international visitor arrivals to Christchurch Airport, guest nights and accommodation availability.
With British and Irish Lions fans roaring into Christchurch this weekend, it is a good time to take stock of the local tourism sector.
Overall, while tourism is not back at pre-quake levels visitor numbers and accommodation capacity are increasing.
Visitor numbers rising
It is particularly pleasing to see annual international visitor numbers to Christchurch Airport (as at April this year) are over 500,000 for the first time since the quakes. Total tourism expenditure in the greater Christchurch area was estimated at $2.3 billion in the 12 months to April 2017.
Capacity at motels and holiday parks is almost back to pre-quake levels, but there is still some work to do in the hotel sector, with bed numbers in March 2017 at 56% of 2010 numbers.
We know the central city was struck hard in the quakes and a lot of building stock, including hotels, was lost.
It is heartening to see a number of hotels have re-opened, two more are in the process of substantial refurbishment or repairs, and new hotels are in the pipeline, such as the Holiday Inn Express on Gloucester Street, scheduled to open next year.
Rugby brings people
The city has come to life this weekend with Lions fans and locals attending the game at AMI Stadium or watching from bars and restaurants. Christchurch City Council also opened a temporary fan zone on Poplar Street in the Innovation Precinct for people to gather and catch the game on the big screen. Locals embraced travelling Lions by offering beds and campervan parking spots through the unofficial ‘Adopt a Lions Fan’ Facebook page.
These show that despite greater Christchurch’s ongoing tourism challenges, the area is very much on the map and heading in the right direction.
As a community, we can do our part by helping domestic and international visitors see Christchurch the way we do — not as a broken place, but a city of opportunities.
Nicky Wagner is Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration.