Open for business signs are springing up throughout Christchurch as the city’s tourism industry swings back into action, reports Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism.
After a week of disruption in the aftermath of the September 4 quake which rocked the Garden City, nearly all of Christchurch’s tourism operators, visitor attractions, and accommodation providers are back in business. Key visitor attractions in Christchurch emerged from the 7.1 magnitude quake largely undamaged and it is estimated that 98% of accommodation providers and tourist attractions in Christchurch and the wider region are up and running.
The city’s main venues – the Christchurch Town Hall, the Convention Centre, AMI Stadium and the CBS Canterbury Arena – received no structural damage in the quake and are pushing ahead with planned events, including two sold-out concerts by Metallica and a Canterbury v Wellington ITM match.
“As far as the tourism industry is concerned it is business as usual and the welcome mat is out,” said Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Ian Hay. “Spring is traditionally a popular time for visitors to come to Christchurch because the city is in full bloom and we see no reason why this year should be any different.
“The best thing international visitors and domestic travellers can do for Canterbury is to keep their travel plans,” Hay said.
Although some older buildings around the central city and eastern residential areas were seriously damaged by the quake, people can still move freely around, shop and enjoy the many varied attractions Christchurch has to offer.
Most central city bars and restaurants have re-opened and all public transport, including the historic tourism tramway, is running as usual.
Civil Defence shifted out of its makeshift headquarters in the Christchurch’s Art Gallery a week after the quake, allowing the gallery to push ahead with its preparations to host a major touring exhibition by Australian sculptor Ron Mueck. Thirteen works from Mueck, who specialises in ‘hyper-realistic’ sculpture, will feature at the gallery, including four new sculptures created especially for the touring exhibition. The Christchurch exhibition will be the first time the London-based artist has shown in New Zealand.
Christchurch’s historic Arts Centre, which stands at the heart of the city’s cultural precinct and is home to a popular weekend arts and craft market, has re-opened, although parts remain off-limits to the public while repair work is carried out.
Hay said he hoped recent events would not put people off visiting Christchurch and Canterbury. There were lashings of snow on the region’s ski fields and all the visitor attractions in the wider Canterbury area were operating at full capacity so there was no reason for people to cancel or postpone their holiday plans.
“This is still a great region to visit and Christchurch city will bounce back from this unfortunate event stronger than ever. Welcoming visitors and taking a ‘business as usual’ approach is the best tonic for our community as the city and region returns to normal,’’ he said.
An analysis by Christchurch International Airport of airline passenger movements between Friday, September 3, and Wednesday, September 8, shows that aside from a significant dip on the day of the earthquake when the airport was closed for seven hours, passenger movements have stayed steady in the week following the quake, comparable to numbers from the same time last year.