Kiosk caters for big boost in visitor numbers

Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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A new visitor kiosk set up in Cathedral Square to give pointers to tourists marks the start of a longer-term move back into the city by Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism.

The kiosk will be open daily from 9.30am to 5pm throughout the summer through to late March, early April to help visitors find their way around the city.

It is staffed by members of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism's i-SITE team, supported at times by a couple of volunteers who will walk between the Square, Worcester Boulevard and New Regent St offering advice and directions to visitors.

CCT chief executive Tim Hunter said the new kiosk, part of a push to improve the visitor experience, came with a healthy improvement in tourist numbers and interest in the city.

"It's still difficult (for tourists) to find their way around the city. They're looking for new stuff, like the want to find out where the cardboard cathedral is, or they're not sure where New Regent St is, or they're in the square and they don't know which way to go to Re:Start."

November numbers were looking good and CCT's i-SITE team expected to see an increase in summer numbers through the sites of between 20-25 per cent compared to the 2012-13 summer period.

CCT had moved its main office to Christchurch Airport from the old Post Office building in Cathedral Square as a result of the earthquakes. But sooner or later the regional tourism organisation would move back into a central business district location, Hunter said.

That was unlikely to be the original Post Office site as the future of that building was unclear.

CCT's existing Christchurch i-SITE, on Rolleston Ave at the Botanic Gardens, was also being extended so that it could better cater for the growing number of visitors coming to Christchurch. The bigger site would open by mid-January. The agreement to use the Botanic Gardens site ends in April 2016 so CCT would start looking for a more permanent i-SITE during 2014.

In the year to June 30, 2013, CCT helped 205,000 visitors through the Botanic Gardens i-SITE. It expected to assist more than 260,000 by the end of June 2014, a 27 per cent increase, Hunter said.

"We've got a healthy dollop of hotel rooms available in the city now, most of our tourist attractions are back up and operating and we expect strong growth in visitor numbers across this summer.

International guest nights in Christchurch have increased by 26 per cent in the 12 months to October, after being relatively flat in the previous year. Asian markets were contributing to this growth.

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CCT employed about 24 staff including those at the i-SITEs, Hunter said. "If (the Cathedral Square site) proves very useful we might keep it open year round".

- BusinessDay

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