Red-zone tours become rebuild tours

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2013

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The cordons may be lifted, the CBD red zone history, but Christchurch tour bus operators are still hoping to cash in on the quake buck.

With the advent of "rebuild" tours, they don't even expect to take a financial hit.

Red Bus, awarded the contract for central city red-zoned tours, rolled out its new rebuild tour the day after the last cordon was lifted.

Chief executive Paul McNoe said the tour focused on what the future held for the city.

He hoped it would prove just as successful as its red-zone tour, which attracted more than 37,000 passengers.

Christchurch Tours owner Robin McCarthy did not believe the removal of the central-city cordons would "make too much of a difference" to his business as his red-zone tours covered not only the central city but also residential areas.

He had also been "evolving" his red-zone tour and route as the city's landscape changed. However, he conceded the market had been "very difficult" since tourist numbers plummeted after the earthquakes.

He believed a lack of accommodation and nightlife had also been a contributing factor. As a result, his revenue was a "fraction" of what it used to be.

"It's nearly cost me everything I have. But as of today I'm still operating."

Hassle-Free Tours co-owner Mark Gilbert believed the opening of the central-city cordon was positive for businesses overall and would not hinder them.

"We weren't going into the cordon anyway . . . If anything we can go a few extra places we couldn't before."

The last two years had been "incredibly challenging" and in the months following the February 2011 quake business dropped by 80 per cent, he said.

Like the city, their company was also recovering.

Business had returned to about 65 per cent of what it once was before the quake, Gilbert said.

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- The Press

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