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Christchurch tourism takes first steps to recovery

Christchurch’s tourism industry has taken its first steps towards recovery, opening some core services for the first time since the February 22 quake and the National Crisis Management Centre has now removed its non-essential travel restrictions for Christchurch.

Although Christchurch is still under a state of emergency and many businesses remain shut, some key tourism attractions are now operating. These include Air Force Museum, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, and the Tranz-Alpine train service.

The Chateau on the Park hotel has also re-opened, which means there are now some more hotel beds available in the city area outside of the cordon zone.

Christchurch International Airport is fully operational and all of Canterbury’s regional tourism hubs – Mt Cook/Mackenzie, Ashburton, Kaikoura, Methven, Hanmer Springs and Akaroa are ready to cater for extra visitors, providing everything from sumptuous wine and food in some of New Zealand’s finest wineries, to whale watching and swimming with dolphins – all nestled in the stunning Canterbury surroundings.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said travellers to the region were being very understanding and seemed happy to modify their plans so they avoided quake-damaged Christchurch but still got to experience the best Canterbury has to offer.

“We’re very pleased that a lot of travellers have chosen to push ahead with their plans to holiday in Canterbury because in doing so they’re helping our economy and our industry at what is a very difficult and challenging time. In the months ahead we’re going to need people to support us and one tangible way they can do that is to continue using Christchurch as the gateway to Canterbury and the South Island,’’ Hunter said.

Many of Christchurch’s tourism operators are currently relying on Government grants to get them through the next few weeks. They are still assessing the damage to their operations and working out how they can get back on their feet.

“We’re very grateful for the assistance offered by the government because it gives businesses some breathing space to assess their options and sort out a strategic plan for the future,” he said.

“What we’re facing as an industry is unprecedented in New Zealand and unfortunately there will be no quick fixes. It’s going to take time and money to re-establish Christchurch as a top tourism destination and our industry is grateful for any assistance the government can give us, both in the short-term and in the long-term,”  Hunter said.

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