Two internationally respected Cantabrian sportsmen have signed
on to represent Christchurch International Airport overseas.
Cricket great Sir Richard Hadlee and rugby hero Brad Thorn are
the first of a team of Christchurch International Airport
Ambassadors and will represent the airport in India and Japan
Sir Richard will begin his duties next month, traveling to India
with airport managers to meet airline and travel industry
executives and other officials.
Christchurch International Airport CEO Jim Boult says Sir
Richard's ambassadorial role will help raise the profile in India
of not only the airport, but also Christchurch and the South
"Sir Richard is a cricketing legend recognised the world over
and particularly in India, where cricket has a very strong
following," says Mr Boult. "He played in 86 test matches for
New Zealand over 18 years and is the greatest all rounder in the
history of the game. He is well known and highly respected in
Sir Richard says he is delighted by the opportunity to promote
"In my opinion, Christchurch Airport is the gateway to the most
beautiful parts of New Zealand," he says. "Christchurch is my home
and I live here by choice, surrounded by the best New Zealand has
to offer. I look out my window towards the stunning Southern Alps
and know it's exactly the sight many Indian travellers come here to
see. I'm keen to help more of them do that."
Brad Thorn is acknowledged as the former hard man of the All
Blacks forward pack and is now playing for Japanese club Fukuoka
Sanix Blues, but says he has a soft spot for Christchurch.
"Most international travellers come to New Zealand for our
awesome mountains and lakes, so they love flying in to Christchurch
over the Southern Alps. Christchurch Airport welcomes millions of
visitors every year and I look forward to helping more Japanese
visitors see the best of New Zealand. I hope to help airlines
consider New Zealand and the South Island as a must-see destination
for Japanese travellers."
CEO Jim Boult says the airport ambassadors will work closely
with the company's aeronautical business development team, sharing
their love of the South Island with officials, airlines and
agencies, including those already providing services here.
"Statistics show international visitors spend more time and more
money in the South Island, so we plan to work with our ambassadors,
airlines and travel companies to make our epic scenery and amazing
experiences available to more travellers," he says.
"New Zealand and India are Commonwealth countries with many
principles and interests in common," he says. "Our country is very
popular there through a shared love of cricket and pride in both
our film-making industries. Sir Richard's appointment is not only
recognition of those aspects, but also a nod to the 2015 World
Cricket Cup, co-hosted by us and Australia. By then, we hope to
have improved access to the South Island through codeshares with
existing carriers and an Indian airline service here. Over the past
five years, Indian visitor numbers to Christchurch have grown by 55
per cent, a trend we hope to see continue."
Mr Boult says the Japanese market has been significant for the
South Island for many years, with Japanese visitors opting to
arrive in Christchurch to be closer to the scenery they come
"The South Island is a 'must' in any Japanese travel itinerary
and tour companies are always considering new southern experiences
for their travellers. We look forward to working with Brad to
encourage travel companies to bring more Japanese visitors here
directly, then transfer to a short service to Mt Cook or
Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism Chief Executive Tim Hunter
is confident the Japanese visitor market has considerably more
growth potential, especially over the summer months when direct air
services are operating from Tokyo to Christchurch.
"At its peak, New Zealand welcomed more than 178,000 Japanese
visitors in 2004, with the vast majority wanting to see the South
Island," he says. "Whilst that number has declined considerably a
stronger Japanese Yen resulted in a resurgence of demand in 2010.
The South Island is still what Japanese visitors come to see, so we
believe offering more flight options that connect our iconic South
Island tourism regions will bring more of them back here."