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Christchurch nightlife back to 95% of pre-quake levels

Christchurch nightlife back to 95 percent of pre-quake levels, Canterbury expert says

May 27, 2014

Christchurch nightlife including restaurants, bars and cafes are back to 95 percent of pre-earthquake levels, a University of Canterbury business research expert says.

The ongoing study from the College of Business and Law shows that a total of 907 restaurants, cafes and bars are operating in the city, as at the end of February, as the rebuild and path to recovery continues to gain momentum. This is a jump from 778 premises operating as at January last year.

"Eleven percent or 103 hospitality businesses are new and have taken the place of some of the closed businesses. However, 317 hospitality outlets that were operating before the earthquakes have remained closed or may not open at all, Associate Professor Sussie Morrish says.

"We have made some interesting discoveries with the help of geo-spatial mapping with assistance from the UC Geography Department. These hospitality businesses are going back to the same locations contrary to a lot of talk although there are still many that are understandably closed in the CBD. These maps also dispute the view that Christchurch is becoming a donut city. Clearly, hospitality businesses are going back to the popular locations pre-earthquakes.

"Where businesses have reopened infrastructure such as roading has not kept up. For example everything grinds to a halt on Victoria St in peak traffic. The patience of those working with the recovery is being tested.

"Our maps showed that where the population has increased, hospitality is slow to pick up on the intense employment areas around Sockburn, Wigram, Hillmorton and Avonhead, and they are significantly under-represented for the numbers.

"Maybe upmarket restaurants may not find custom from pie-munching, energy-drinking industrial types but it's worth exploring for those in the hospitality sector.

"My advice for people as the city grows and recovers is to water and feed the workers where they end up. Also, understandably, Lincoln Rd, Papanui Rd and Riccarton Rd are nightlife hotspots.

"Businesses would do well to think about transport routing to these areas for the non-driving, drinking crowds say from 4pm on Thirsty Thursday and for the Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) crowd. Maybe businesses that may not open late in those areas could get fully licensed and vary hours for Thursday and Friday but not bother with weekends the way nightlife areas would.

"We are seeking more funding to research how Christchurch is recovering as it rebuilds but not limit the project to hospitality. There is so much more that can be done."

The hospitality sector must continue to meet the needs of residents and visitors to Christchurch and the Canterbury region as the rebuild continues, Associate Professor Morrish says.

"The University of Canterbury has strategies for attracting more students and the number of construction workers continues to rise as more building works get under way. Hospitality and entertainment is important for these people and cafes, bars and restaurants play a significant role as Christchurch revamps."

The city has been voted the second best city in the world to visit this year by the New York Times which praised Christchurch's ingenuity, and its entrepreneurs in bringing life back into the city. Last year, Lonely Planet put Christchurch at number six on its list of the top 10 cities for 2013, describing the city as `rising from the rubble with a breath-taking mix of spirit, determination and flair’.


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