'Christchurch is Open' event aids tourism
29 Apr 2011
Tourism operators in New Zealand’s Canterbury region, hard hit by publicity around the recent earthquakes, are banding together for a special event this weekend (30.4.11) to reinforce their "Christchurch is open" message.
The Christchurch and Canterbury tourism industry has been hit hard by media attention focusing on the effects of the seismic events and wants to show the world the city is open, ready and willing to welcome back tourists.
The ‘Christchurch is Open’ event is being held at Riccarton Park on 30 April, and promises to be an entertaining trade show with great deals for tourists.
After bouncing around ideas "over a quiet beer", three locals involved in the tourism industry decided they wanted to give something back to their community and their industry, and came up with trade show plan.
They say their ‘Christchurch is Open’ event is designed to alleviate some of the pressure on the tourism industry and create something positive for Christchurch.
Steve Wilson, who is director of Special Eyes and one of the organisers and sponsors, says despite all that has happened with the recent seismic activity, Cantabrians are a hearty bunch who won’t stand by and let their beautiful city be forgotten.
"Yes there is damage and yes there are many facilities not working; but on the other side, there are many accommodation sites and tourism operators working at full capacity ready and willing to welcome the tourist back to Christchurch, acting as the major gateway to the rest of the South Island.
"This event is going to celebrate Christchurch’s resilience, strength and the fact that Christchurch is open," Wilson said.
Backpacking tourists staying at seven local accommodation sites will be collected and transported to the event, where they will be welcomed with a variety of entertainment as well as tourism operators offering great deals on activities and attractions.
Organisers say they’ve had a positive response from the industry and they hope the accommodation providers attending will receive additional bed nights as a result of the event.
A website has been created to highlight the event and to create some positive media attention for Christchurch.
Tourism and members of the hospitality industry will be able to list their business on christchurchisopen.co.nz and include any specials or last minute deals they are offering at no cost.
After the event, it is hoped that the site will become a portal for directing tourists, who are visiting or planning to visit the area, to the tourism and hospitality businesses still operating in the Christchurch and Canterbury region.
Wilson says the ‘Christchurch is Open’ event will be streamed live on social media platforms so everyone, no matter where they are in the world, can join in on the party.
"There is no stronger marketing message than showing those contemplating visiting Christchurch, actual footage of people having a great time," Wilson said.
‘Christchurch is Open’ is also promoting some major competitions which involve all-inclusive trips to New Zealand during the time of Rugby World Cup 2011 - covering flights, accommodation, activities and transport.
Garden City still popular
Despite the recent events in Christchurch, the ‘Garden City’ remains the fourth most popular domestic holiday destination - behind Wellington, Auckland and Queenstown.
The New Zealand Traveller Survey showed that 28% of New Zealanders living outside Christchurch will visit the city in the next year, and 60% said the earthquake hadn’t affected their desire to go to Christchurch.
Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) chief executive Tim Cossar said it was pleasing to see the majority of Kiwis hadn’t been deterred.
"Christchurch still has so much to offer, and the ski season is also approaching, which means a likely increase in tourist numbers. Christchurch remains an important gateway to some of the South Island’s top ski-fields" Cossar said.
Rebuilding Christchurch’s tourism industry has been given a boost with a new partnership between Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism, Christchurch International Airport Limited, Christchurch City Council and the Ministry of Economic Development.
The organisations have pooled resources to help market Christchurch and Canterbury to the world and will work together to rebuild the city’s tourism infrastructure.
A steering party will develop a new regional ‘Activity Plan’ with a roadmap to recovery, outlining the projects and activities needed in the coming months, and monitoring progress.
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