Two of Christchurch’s top tourism officials were in Sydney on Tuesday (Sep 28) to encourage Australians to push ahead with their trans-Tasman business and leisure travel plans.
A city tram in Christchurch
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism acting CEO Ian Hay and Chairman Paul Bingham wanted to let Australians know that Christchurch has bounced back from the 7.1 magnitude quake which rocked the city on September 4 and is still a great value destination that offers both leisure and conference visitors an amazing array of experiences.
They were also in Sydney to announce plans for their most ambitious marketing campaign yet – a campaign they hope will entice record numbers of Australians to head to Christchurch and Canterbury over the coming months.
Bingham said the six-week campaign would start in late October and involve a series of television commercials and online ‘webisodes’ featuring Christchurch and Canterbury tourism ambassador and multi-Emmy Award-winner Phil Keoghan.
Keoghan, best known as the host of reality TV show, ‘The Amazing Race’, was raised in Canterbury and is a passionate advocate for the region.
In the commercials and webisodes he reveals Canterbury’s Best Kept Secrets and talk about why he thinks Canterbury is an amazing place for Australians to visit.
Bingham, who is Managing Director of Black Cat Cruises, said the campaign is one of the largest run by the region in Australia and is designed to send a clear message that Canterbury has much to offer holidaymakers.
“As far as the tourism industry is concerned it is business as usual and the welcome mat is out,” he said.
Hay said nearly all of Christchurch’s tourism operators, visitor attractions and accommodation providers were back in business following the quake and the city had largely returned to normal.
He said the Spring months were traditionally a popular time for visitors to visit Christchurch because the city was in full bloom and he could see no reason why this year should be any different.
“There is still plenty of snow on our ski fields and it would be great to see lots of Australians hitting the slopes. The best thing Australian travellers can do for Canterbury is to keep their travel plans,’’ he said.
In Christchurch, central city bars and restaurants are open and busy, and all public transport, including the heritage tramway, is running as usual. The city’s iconic heritage buildings such as the Cathedral, Museum and Arts Centre are open and any damage can be restored. Some older buildings around the central city and eastern residential areas were seriously damaged by the quake but people can still move freely around and enjoy the many varied attractions Christchurch has to offer.
The city’s hotels are back in full swing and all of the city’s main conference and events venues – including the Christchurch Town Hall, the Convention Centre, AMI Stadium and the CBS Canterbury Arena – came through the quake without any structural damage and are continuing with their calendar of conferences and events.
The city is pushing ahead with its preparations to host several large conferences, including next week’s Ulearn10 education conference with 1,800 delegates.
And plans are still on track for Rugby World Cup 2011 celebrations in September and October. Christchurch will be the base for the Australian team during the Rugby World Cup.
Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said despite the size of the September 4 quake the city has bounced back remarkably quickly and there is no reason for people to cancel or postpone their travel plans.
“Christchurch is a great city with a wonderful heritage and a resilient spirit that has never been more evident than it has been in the past couple of weeks. The way communities have looked after each other in this challenging period is truly inspiring and shows just how warm-hearted and caring the people of Christchurch and Canterbury are,” he said.
“The people in this city have so many reasons to be proud of their region and they want visitors to come here so they can see for themselves how strong and beautiful this city still is and how much it has to offer.
“Our iconic heritage buildings are still standing and we still have our beautiful parks, gardens and waterways. We have got some rebuilding work to do but I have no doubt that Christchurch is going to emerge from this stronger than ever,’’ Parker said.