Christchurch and the Canterbury region are celebrating a year of tourism wins, along with an upturn in visitor numbers.
In recent months the region has been singled out by influential travel book publisher Lonely Planet as a top destination and several of the region’s tourism attractions and tourist operators have won industry accolades: in Christchurch earlier this month I can see why.
Every time I return to my home city I have a combination of sadness and hope: sad to see my history being erased from the streets along with hope as I see the new city rise phoenix like.
Staying at the five star Classic Villa in the city centre it was easy to walk around and see both – I also took the Red Bus tour of the red-z0ne area which is very small now – which got a me a little closer to places I could not always reach on foot.
“It’s been another challenging year for our tourism industry but despite that we’ve had some big successes,” says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.
“The proof of recovery is that all the major Asian markets, plus the United States are back in growth compared with 2011, and the Australian holiday market looks like it has turned the corner too,” Mr Hunter says.
As well as Lonely Planet’s inclusion of Christchurch in its list of Top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2013, Canterbury also has nine spots in the AA (Automobile Assn,) Travel’s 101 Must-Do list. with the popular alpine thermal resort of Hanmer Springs, (90 minutes from Christchurch) ranked No 1 on the list while a cruise around picturesque Akaroa Harbour with Black Cat Cruises was ranked at number 3. The popular TranzAlpine scenic rail trip from Christchurch to the West Coast came in at number 6.
Other notable achievements:
•Otahuna Lodge has again been named by Tatler Magazine as one of its 101 Best Hotels in the World.
• The George hotel in Christchurch was voted New Zealand’s Leading Boutique Hotel in the World Travel Awards.
• Melton Estate, boutique winery in West Melton was judged Best Wine Tourism Restaurant in Christchurch / South Island for the Great Wine Capitals of the World 2012 Wine Tourism Awards.
• Mark Gilbert, who together with wife Nikki runs Hassle-free Tours, won the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Young Tourism Entrepreneur Award.
• Pegasus Bay received the Cuisine Award for Best Winery Restaurant for the fifth year in a row.
• Earth & Sky, star gazing tours in Tekapo won a South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award.
• Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa won Best Natural Bathing Spa in the Australasian Spa Association’s (ASPA) annual awards
“These awards are testimony to the talent of the people who work in our tourism industry and to the quality of the products we offer in Canterbury,’’ Mr Hunter says.
“The delivery of outstanding service to visitors has been a key influencer in driving our tourism recovery.
“The visitor decline that was triggered by the earthquakes of 2011 has now been arrested with stronger arrivals from most of our key markets already evident this summer.