Spring brings tourism boost for Christchurch

2 September 2013

Spring is in the air for Christchurch, with the opening of four central city hotels boosting accommodation capacity by 25 per cent.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) chief executive Tim Hunter says the hotel openings signal big progress for the region’s tourism sector.

“This month marks an exciting milestone in our goal to bring business, leisure and conference visitors back to Christchurch,” Mr Hunter says. “We now have the capacity to host many more international and domestic visitors and we’re rolling out the welcome mat.”

Novotel Christchurch, Heritage Cathedral Square, Quest Apartments and Hotel 115 all opened in August, adding 300 new guest rooms to the central city’s inventory.

Latimer Hotel, a brand new build with 136 rooms and conference facilities and managed by Rydges group, will open in October boosting the city’s new room numbers to over 430. They join Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch, which opened in May with 171 rooms.

Closer to the airport, Copthorne Hotel Commodore has this year added 25 new guest rooms and suites and Airport Gateway Lodge has just opened 32 new boutique suites.

The additional hotel rooms bring Christchurch accommodation capacity to approximately 68% of pre-quake levels.

Mr Hunter says confirmation that the new Convention Centre will open in the first quarter of 2017 should give other hotel investors the confidence to proceed with their proposed developments.

“Now that we have certainty around the rebuild of the new convention centre hotel investors will be able to move forward with much more confidence,” he says.

New hospitality venues are also on the rise. More than 794 cafes, restaurants and bars are now open in the city, with 12 high-profile openings in the last three months. University of Canterbury research shows hospitality outlets are now at more than 80% of pre-quake levels.

“Not only do we have more brand new accommodation, we also have many amazing new restaurants and bars with some of the country’s best chefs.

“And wow factor venues like the Cardboard Cathedral are really exciting visitors, who want to see more of our progress first hand,” Mr Hunter says.

Christchurch’s icon tourist attractions are also making a welcome comeback, with the Gondola recently reopening, and both the heritage Tramway and Arts Centre Market Square scheduled for an October return.

New hotel capacity will meet accommodation demand from visitors attracted to large events happening in Christchurch this spring, he says.

“New Zealand Cup and Show Week, the country's largest spring festival, is just around the corner with nine days of racing, rural fun and style in November. This year we are celebrating the 150th running of the New Zealand Cup at Riccarton, as well as featuring new fashion and entertainment events throughout the city.

“Before then we have a feast of creative events with the Christchurch Arts Festival and SCAPE Biennial public art installations, the Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA), which drew huge crowds last year, and the Body Festival, an annual festival of performance and dance,” Mr Hunter says.

“People can now plan to come to Christchurch and stay in style, enjoy some of our fabulous hospitality and see for themselves all the new building work and innovative ideas while they are here.”