CBD entertainment zone needed
A central city entertainment zone should be added to complement the Re:Start Mall, Christchurch's innovative quake rebuild retail area, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.
The zone should be added to the functioning mall built out of shipping containers, TIA chief executive Martin Snedden said today.
A vibrant tourism industry was vital to rebuilding Christchurch's economy, he added.
TIA estimates that before the earthquakes, tourism contributed $2.3 billion a year to Canterbury's economy.
But Christchurch has lost more than one million guest nights since the February 2011 earthquake, Snedden said. The impacts were also being felt across the South Island, with international guest nights dropping by close to a million in 2011.
"The industry is keen to encourage visitors back to Christchurch and we're looking forward to the release of the Christchurch Central Development Unit's (CCDU) blueprint for the city's rebuild," Snedden said. The blueprint is due to be released on July 27.
The tourism industry had identified some key projects that will boost the industry's recovery as quickly as possible.
"The immediate need is for a central city entertainment zone to complement the Restart Mall. The mall has been highly successful at providing a central city focus but offering both international and domestic visitors a temporary restaurant and entertainment zone would give them a reason to stay in Christchurch and spend more while they are there," Snedden said.
A lack of accommodation, particularly in the hotel and backpacker sectors, was also impeding the industry's recovery.
"It's vital that rebuilding of central city accommodation takes place as quickly as possible and with a minimum of red tape."
The announcement this week that tourism bus company Magic Bus was reintroducing Christchurch to its itineraries was a positive start but improving the city's entertainment and accommodation options would encourage more group tours to return.
Certainty on the location and timeline for rebuilding the Christchurch Convention Centre would be an essential part of the blueprint, Snedden said. This would give both accommodation providers and conference planners confidence in the future of the valuable conference and convention sector.
"We are also calling for increased support for Christchurch International Airport and its endeavours to secure increased international traffic, which helps not only Christchurch and Canterbury but the wider South Island. Christchurch Airport is the main gateway to the South Island and we want to do all we can to encourage airlines and passengers to come here."
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