Shaky Times for South Island TourismFor those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring is certainly here. A welcome time of year for any in the hospitality or tourism industries. Not only a time where blossom and a little sunshine adds a dash of colour to our lives after the dull and drizzly days of winter, but also a time that brings visitors by their thousands.

After an economically challenging winter, many say harder than any they have seen before, business has seemed to be starting to flower, with many experiencing their local residents venturing out after a long hibernation.

This has all now been shadowed by the uncertainty following the recent quakes throughout Canterbury and Christchurch. My hearts goes out to those affected by the quakes throughout the region, of whom a few I have met. Here in Dunedin many felt the very tail of the quake in the form of a sway, liking being at sea – I speak from second hand information however, I slept through.

It is great to see from news reports and through speaking to industry colleagues in the affected regions that most tourism related businesses are back operating, with a real push to try to reduce further economic impact on these businesses by promoting to the world that Christchurch is still open for business. From the couple of hoteliers I have spoken to it seems that so far there has been a drastic downturn in tourists to the city following the quake, which has partly been counterbalanced through the influx of construction and aid workers to the region.

Although not physically affected by the earthquake, many of the operators in the rest of the South Island are rightly concerned as to the lasting affects on tourism for the summer ahead, perhaps more so following the hard winter. Christchurch is internationally considered the gateway to the South Island, with most international arrivals to this region arriving through Christchurch International Airport. Unlike many worldwide tourist destinations, with the distance to New Zealand from the worlds largest areas of regularly travelling population (Europe, America and Asia) – New Zealand tends to see multi-regional trips when people visit.

The hope from many is that the message is firm:

The South Island of New Zealand is still ‘open’ and very much looking to welcome our international visitors this summer.

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