City needs 'visitor strategy'

Christchurch lacks a visitor strategy and things for tourists to do, the city's port and airport chiefs say.

Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns, Lyttelton Port of Christchurch chief executive Peter Davie, and NZ Transport Agency regional director southern Jim Harland discussed transport issues in Christchurch yesterday as part of a Trans-Tasman Business Circle discussion.

Christchurch needed to develop a better brand for tourists, Davie said.

"I don't think we know what we are as a tourism destination. If you come to Christchurch, why do you come here? What attractions are there for you to do, see, apart from walking around broken things, going to the Antarctic centre?"

Johns said Christchurch needed a visitor strategy to grow tourism.

"Christchurch doesn't have a visitor strategy, whereas most other major cities in New Zealand and Australia do. I don't think the visitor economy features in the city's economic development plan, which is interesting given the several hundred million dollars invested in assets entirely reliant on the visitor economy for growth in the future."

A billion dollars worth of visitor expenditure had been lost in the South Island in the last three years as a result of the loss of Christchurch's CBD, Johns said.

"Over a third of US travel companies will not include Christchurch in their itineraries of New Zealand at the moment. That's massive. If it was a healthy city, you would have a city strategy and you'd have a promotions plan that would be co-ordinated and focused."

Johns said the quakes had "destroyed" Christchurch's "visitor proposition" and confidence in the city as a good place to visit. "The rebuilding of the CBD and the roading network around the CBD is critical."

Davie also criticised the state of the city's roads. "How come I can switch on my tap and get water, I can switch on my power switch and get power, I switch onto the road and I stop."

Johns said Christchurch rated No 2 as a New Zealand destination prior to the quakes, but was not even in the top five. "If you want to recover that part of your economy, just sticking to the status quo is not going to get you there."