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Visitors’ vote of confidence a boost for local economy

Visitors’ vote of confidence a boost for local economy

26 August 2011

Akaroa harbour becomes the chosen destination for cruise ships visiting Canterbury this coming season in a change that will bring significant economic benefits to the picturesque Banks Peninsula township and surrounding area. Cruising is a growth industry in New Zealand and a New Zealand Cruise Industry Study suggests that cruise ship visits this season will pump $31.8m into the Canterbury economy alone and create 200 new jobs.

Cruise ships visiting Canterbury have traditionally berthed at Lyttelton, but earthquake damage to the port’s wharves means that this season many of the ships scheduled to visit cannot be accommodated in Lyttelton and will berth in Akaroa Harbour instead.

Lyttelton will still host some of the smaller ships that can berth in the inner harbour but the French-inspired settlement of Akaroa can expect to host 10 of the larger cruise ships over the summer cruising season, which begins on October 12 with the arrival of the Sea Princess. Each ship is expected to visit eight times during the season, making around 80 arrivals altogether. Although every effort has been made to spread cruise ship arrivals, there are six occasions during the season when there will be two cruise ships in Akaroa Harbour at the same time.

“It is going to be a very busy summer season for Akaroa and we hope that many of the passengers will also make the trip across the hill to Christchurch and Canterbury,” says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.

“Akaroa is a township that is very much reliant on tourism and it’s going to get a significant boost through these cruise ship visits. It’s going to mean more jobs and more business for the cafes, restaurants and tourism service providers in the area.

“The volume of visitors coming off these ships does present some logistical challenges but we’re already working with the Christchurch City Council on a traffic management plan to ease congestion around the township on the days ships are in harbour.

“Work is also underway on extending and upgrading the wharf so it can accommodate two tenders bringing visitors from ships to the wharf at once. Public amenities in the township are also being upgraded and additional facilities will be brought in ahead of the busy period.

In Christchurch itself, a temporary transport hub will be set up near the Botanic Gardens to cater for the expected influx of visitors to the city. It will provide a central point on which to concentrate our visitor services and a smooth connection for transport to other city attractions.

“Christchurch City Council, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and Akaroa District Promotions are committed to ensuring that the unprecedented number of cruise ships scheduled to visit Akaroa over the coming months deliver an overwhelmingly positive outcome for the community and visitors alike. Every effort will be made to ensure we are well set-up with infrastructure to transport passengers smoothly to and from the ships and around the city, making their visitor experience as enjoyable as possible,’’ says Mr Hunter.

Mayor Bob Parker says that these are unusual times for our region and such times call for creative solutions.

“I think it is great news that we have secured the important cruise ship business and it is a very positive step towards both economic and post-earthquake recovery in our special part of Canterbury. Our environment and people, the landscape and history are extraordinary, something to be shared as well as treasured.

“There will be challenges, but we rise to challenges here, and I’m confident that together we can manage them appropriately.

“Cruise visitors will be the lifeblood of our tourism economy this year because they don't need accommodation but still want to enjoy activities, our amazing scenery and shopping. Cruise passenger arrivals are a much-needed boost for the whole of Canterbury economy and I know they will be warmly welcomed to Akaroa.”

ENDS

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