Antarctica pumps $178 million into NZ economy

Winter flights into Antarctica to support the rebuilding of the United States' McMurdo Station contribute to the $125 ...
Joshua Swanson

Winter flights into Antarctica to support the rebuilding of the United States' McMurdo Station contribute to the $125 million Canterbury receives annually from Antarctic-related activities.

A new report estimates Antarctic-related activities pump $178 million into the New Zealand economy with Canterbury the major beneficiary.

National Antarctic programmes run by New Zealand, the US, Italy and the Republic of Korea contribute $167m annually, buying goods and services from more than 900 firms.

The report said the multiplier effect of downstream and household spending meant the full economic impact for the country was $432m, and almost 7000 jobs - more than half of them in Canterbury - were based on Antarctic-related activities. 

Lincoln University's Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit compiled the report for Antarctica New Zealand, the crown entity responsible for developing, managing and carrying out New Zealand Government activities in Antarctica and the southern ocean.

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As well as looking at spending by national Antarctic programmes, the study looked at the impact of tourism and events, fishing, education and research, and Antarctic heritage. 

It found that at a regional level almost half the $125m Antarctic-related spending going to Canterbury came from the tourism sector, with visits to the Canterbury Museum's Antarctic gallery alone attracting 270,000-plus visitors annually.

Tourism to Antarctica had also grown significantly, jumping from 12,000 visitors in 2001 to more than 36,700 this year.

Chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand Peter Beggs said about 4000 people heading for Antarctica to work passed through Christchurch each season. 

Many of the 3500 internationals stayed on to travel around New Zealand when their stint on the ice ended, and some brought friends and family here to join them.

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The report noted future opportunities for Christchurch included the US$300m rebuilding of McMurdo station by the US Antarctic programme, and the Chinese government's plan to build a research facility in the Ross Sea area. 

Scott Base also needed a major upgrade, estimated to cost $150m, to extend its life and support quality research.

Beggs said they had put a business case for Scott Base to Treasury and hoped to get some funding in next year's budget.

If the Chinese opted to use Christchurch as their base for the building of their research facility, that had huge economic potential because the stocking and refuelling of just one ship could run to $1m, he said.

"I witnessed a Chinese ship 18 months ago with pallets of bananas and lamb being loaded on board. I remember the Chinese Consul General here saying the souvenir shop [the seamen and scientists] were taken to had to be restocked twice because it completely sold out because they all wanted to buy Ugg boots and jade."





 - Stuff


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