Tourism New Zealand has moved to reassure visitors the country remains open for business following an earthquake in the city of Christchurch in late February.
As many as 160 people are thought to have died in the incident, with thousands of buildings set to be demolished after being deemed unsafe.
However, Kevin Bowler, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, has pointed out events are “localized” to Christchurch and its surrounding environs, with the rest of the country open, welcoming and operating as normal
“Our sympathy and concern is extended to Cantabrians, visitors to the area on February 22nd and to business owners, including tourism operators, affected by the earthquake,” said Bowler.
“We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support which New Zealand has received from the United Kingdom and our sincere thanks goes to everyone who has been involved over the last two weeks, we really appreciate your help.”
Tourism New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand’s immediate priority after the earthquake was to provide support and help ensure travellers in Christchurch, travellers currently in New Zealand and those intending to travel to New Zealand had accurate and up-to-date travel information.
“From a tourism industry perspective, other than Christchurch city, New Zealand is very much open as normal.
“Our tourism businesses across the country, and especially in the wider Canterbury area, have been making alternative arrangements for those who had planned to stay in Christchurch and will continue to do over the coming months,” added Bowler.
“It is too soon to say how long the recovery and rebuilding of Christchurch will take, however, we know that the determined Cantabrian spirit will be a key factor to help rebuild the city.”
The New Zealand tourism industry’s next priority is to ensure tourism remains strong and maintains its contribution to the economy.
International tourism contributes NZ$9.5 billion of foreign exchange to the New Zealand economy each year.
“New Zealand is used to welcoming large numbers of international tourists each year including about 235,000 from the United Kingdom,” said Bowler.
“A strong economy is what we need to ensure Christchurch can get back on its feet as quickly as possible and tourism is vital to this.
“With this in mind we would like to ask the UK tourism industry’s support in encouraging visitors to continue to visit our beautiful country,” concluded Bowler.