Quake-curious fuel bus return

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 08:43 20/06/2012

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Bus company Magic Travellers Network NZ is bringing Christchurch back onto its national overnight itinerary, with the Canterbury tourism industry hoping more bus groups will return.

Magic bus product manager Daryl Raven said the tour company left Christchurch off the overnight list after 2010's September 4 quake, diverting to Methven, and even before the February 22, 2011 quake decided to overnight in Kaikoura.

Recently, however, backpacker demands to be able to visit the quake-damaged city and the availability of more accommodation had prompted the return to Christchurch.

Magic had sourced backpacker accommodation, including Jailhouse Accommodation in Addington and the Old Countryhouse in Gloucester St.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter welcomed Magic's return and said he hoped national operators such as Kiwi Experience and Stray would join the switch back into Christchurch stopovers.

"These are the first ones to come back, and they'll come back taking three tours a week through Christchurch . . . Just getting it started and getting it back on the map is really important to us.

Time was healing the city's reputation, but there was still concern about the Australian market, "where every minor tremor gets reported in the media", he said.

A spokeswoman for bus tour company Kiwi Experience said she did not want to comment about Kiwi's intentions at this point, while Stray NZ could not be contacted for comment.

Raven said Magic had a presence in Christchurch going back 21 years, and the recommitment after September 2010 related in part to accommodation being available, but also demand.

The three buses a week were now bringing in 20-25 passengers each but by September demand should grow to six or seven buses each week.

"What we've noticed of late is that people are getting serious, people are asking questions and wanting to get off the bus . . . we thought we'd help facilitate the growth of Christchurch."

Meanwhile, Hunter said Canterbury's business tourism sector was targeting smaller conventions and incentives gatherings, held by companies to reward top salespeople, of 20 to 100 attendees.

Christchurch had at least six destinations able to host these smaller events.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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