Tourists are being advised to leave Christchurch and head to other parts of New Zealand as the city struggles to cope with the aftermath of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.
Christchurch Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said the city remains a no-go area.
“It’s just not in a state that can cope with more tourists at the moment. It really is a case of encouraging people who are here to think about moving to other parts of Canterbury or other parts of New Zealand while the city just deals with the immediate emergency,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
“We also have the complications of the central city area being cordoned off ... of course a lot of the major hotels are in that area and restaurants and retail.”
“But at the moment we’ve really just got the airport hotels that are relatively unscathed but it’s certainly not enough to meet the needs of an entire inbound tourism industry,” he added.
“I think it has a bright future long term but I think the short to medium term’s pretty bleak.”
Citizens in the city of Wellington have been offering accommodation to those who may need it via social networking sites.
Those due to fly to or from Christchurch’s airport are advised that it is open to domestic and international flights, but are advised to check with their airline before travel.
Tourists due to arrive in New Zealand for holidays have also been advised to avoid Christchurch as many hotels have been closed, whilst those that remain open are being used to accommodate locals who have been forced to leave their homes.
In the centre of the city, most hotels are inaccessible. The Hotel Grand Chancellor, the tallest building in the city, is said to the verge of collapse following a series of aftershocks.
Hundreds of tourists have tried to leave the city but have been hindered by damage to the roads and the closure of the railways.
New Zealand receives more than 2.5 million visitors annually, and fears have been voiced that the latest earthquake could cripple the country’s tourism industry.