Christchurch locals are being urged to share their inside knowledge by being ambassadors and lending a helping hand to visitors confused by the changing face of the city.
Over the coming months thousands of out-of-town visitors are expected in Christchurch and tourism leaders are worried some will struggle to find their way around and could miss out on discovering the exciting new places to shop, eat and be entertained that have popped up in Christchurch since the quake.
“The central city is in a transition phase and people who haven’t visited for a long time or those who are visiting for the first time and are relying on guide books to find their way around probably won’t know where the best restaurants are now or where the bars are,” says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.
“They may find it quite challenging even to orientate themselves in the city because we’ve lost so many of our landmarks. Another complicating factor is that they may not be able to walk directly from point A to point B because there may still be areas in between that are cordoned off because of quake damage.
“For visitors the situation could be quite confusing so we’re really asking locals to step up this summer and act as ambassadors for our city by helping our out-of-town visitors find their way around. We want our visitors to share in something truly unique – to experience the atmosphere of the pop-up bars, cafes, shops and hidden gems that only locals know about.
“We’re doing our best to get fresh information about what’s happening in the city out to visitors and Christchurch City Council is updating signage in the city, but we can’t reach everyone so we need Christchurch residents to help out by giving any visitors they come across who look lost, confused or worried a friendly smile and advice on how to get around and where are the good places to go,” Mr Hunter says.
“Now, more than ever, we need to show goodwill towards our visitors and make sure they’re made to feel comfortable and welcome in our ever-changing city,’’ Mr Hunter says.
One crucial place visitors may need help finding is the new i-SITE Visitor Centre, which is now on Rolleston Avenue, next to Canterbury Museum.
Staffed from 8.30am to 5pm seven days a week and open every day this summer, the i-SITE is a one-stop shop for information about things to see and do in Christchurch and Canterbury.
“At the i-SITE we have multi-lingual staff available to help visitors with everything from finding the nearest public conveniences to booking day trips and adventure activities or even accommodation for their stay,” says Christchurch i-SITE manager Sandra Caldwell.
“We’re happy to help in any way we can, so if you find a visitor who is looking a bit lost it would great if you could send them our way so we can help them.
“If it is outside our working hours there are information boards posted around the visitor centre that give emergency contacts and motel-on-duty information, as well as information on how to find a bed on www.christchurchnz.com,’’ Ms Caldwell says.
“The way Christchurch people rallied around each other after the quakes was amazing. Now we need to rally around our visitors and show them that although our built environment has taken a hammering, there are still lots of great things to do here and we are the most friendly, helpful and welcoming place on the planet,’’ Ms Caldwell says.