While some travellers have had their travel plans disrupted, most of the country remains largely unaffected by Monday’s earthquake and it’s important this message gets out, say the associations representing the tourism and hospitality industries.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said that after the Christchurch earthquakes, other regions that hadn’t been directly impacted saw a significant drop off in visitors. “We don’t want a repeat of that”.
On Tuesday travel to North Canterbury was not currently advisable, but for Christchurch and elsewhere it was hoped that people would continue to travel for business and leisure.
A November 16 release from Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) said visitors were welcome across Canterbury and New Zealand’s South Island following Monday’s earthquake.
CCT chief executive Vic Allen urged people to keep their travel plans and reassured visitors the disruption was confined to Kaikoura, 180 kilometres north of Christchurch.
“The South Island remains a safe place to visit. Christchurch, Hanmer Springs, Waipara, Akaroa, Arthurs Pass, Ashburton, Timaru, the Mackenzie district and all other areas of Canterbury are operating as usual.
“Hanmer Springs is open, as is the Waipara Valley wine region, the Tranz Alpine is running as normal from Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass and a daily Intercity coach service between Christchurch and Picton is operating via the Lewis Pass,” he said.
“Outside of the Kaikoura district, Canterbury’s accommodation, airports, restaurants, cafes, local transport and attraction experiences are operational. The Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Information Centre is open daily to assist travellers with travel plans and bookings.”
On Tuesday, a number of visitors were stuck in Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs and were being assisted by the local tourism businesses. Tour operators are busy re-arranging itineraries for groups that were due in the area. They are also reassuring those yet to arrive in New Zealand that it is still safe to come.
“Our thoughts go out to our members who have been impacted by the earthquakes,” said Vicki Lee, CEO of Hospitality NZ. “We have been in contact with a number of our Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura members, many have big clean ups underway and are keen to get back on track.
Ms Lee also said that “one resourceful Hanmer Springs member” had taken to their BBQ to feed guests when the power was out. “That’s the sort of resilience we see time and time again in this industry.”
Mr Roberts reiterated that New Zealand remains a safe a place to visit. “Like many countries, New Zealand gets earthquakes and this time it is North Canterbury’s turn to bear the brunt. It’s going to take a while to truly gauge the timeline to get State Highway 1 open again, so new travel routes will be needed. Fortunately, there are options for alternative routes. Beyond North Canterbury it’s very much business as usual.”
A Tuesday, November 15 release from Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism emphasized that it was ‘business as usual in Christchurch’.
Chief executive Vic Allen said the airport, hotels, car and campervan hire companies, conference and meeting venues and visitor attractions in Christchurch were all operating as normal. Damage in the Christchurch CBD appears to be minimal, although building assessments were still being carried out.
“Christchurch is now one of the safest cities in the world, following our infrastructure rebuild and strengthening upgrades,” Mr Allen said.“We are encouraging people to keep their plans to come to Christchurch.”
Further north of Christchurch, the popular visitor centres of Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura are currently inaccessible by road and rail. More information will be available later today, following detailed assessment.