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Kaikōura’s tourism sector bounces back

20 November 2018

Kaikōura’s tourism sector is doing well two years on from the earthquake that rocked the beautiful seaside town. 

Visitor spending in the settlement renowned for its whale watching and dolphin and seal attractions is only down 15 percent for the year compared to pre-quake figures. 

Destination Kaikōura General Manager Glenn Ormsby says year-end September 2018 visitor spend was at $102m compared to pre-quake figures of $121m.

“This is an amazing result two years after a significant event. We’re confident by the time we reach year end April 2019 figures, Kaikōura will be back, or exceeding pre-quake visitor figures. If we achieve this, it is truly a testament to confirm the value of Central Government’s investment in recovery marketing activities for Destination Kaikōura through our relationship with Christchurch Airport.”

Guest night figures are also bouncing back in the town when comparing pre-quake commercial accommodation with September 2018 year end results, down by just 8.4 percent. Guest arrivals are down 20.6 percent, while the average length of stay has increase 16.8 percent and annual average occupancy is up 18.5 percent.

Glenn says Kaikōura is entering an exciting phase in the destination’s development and evolution.

“Over the next 18 months, the District will have a brand new $30million, 118 room, 4 ½ star Sudima Hotel coming online early 2020, while a private investor has also confirmed a new $20million accommodation and retail development on the town’s main street.”

Another major milestone was reached for the town at the beginning of this month, with KiwiRail’s iconic Coastal Pacific’s Great Journey of NZ rail experience from Picton-Kaikōura-Christchurch back in action commercially from 1 December 2018.

KiwiRail’s GGM Sales and Commercial Alan Piper says the Coastal Pacific plays a critical role in the local economy by bringing thousands of tourists into the area.

“Before the earthquake the Coastal Pacific carried about 43,000 passengers into the Marlborough/Kaikōura regions during its summer season. These passengers are estimated to spend almost $35m in the two regions, supporting 300 local jobs,” Alan says.

“Our scenic trains play an important role in getting domestic and international tourists out into often hard to reach regions, and are becoming increasingly popular. Having the service back up and running reconnects our journeys across New Zealand allowing people to travel from Auckland to Christchurch and across to the West Coast by train and ferry.

The Coastal Pacific service was suspended after the 14 November Kaikōura earthquake in 2016. The Main North Line reopened to restricted freight services in September last year, just 10 months after the devastating earthquake.

Freight services were run at night to allow work to continue during the day to repair the rail and road.

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