International tourists arriving in Christchurch add more value

News of increasing numbers of international flights bringing tourists to Christchurch can't help but add real value to the South Island economy, if statistics are anything to go by.

Air New Zealand this week announced a series of charter flights to bring Japanese tourists to Christchurch, a move welcomed by Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult who says the services will have a direct positive economic impact on the whole South Island.

"Tourists who fly into Christchurch are amongst the longest staying visitors to New Zealand," says Mr Boult. "For example, they stay 65% longer than those coming into Queenstown.

"Travellers arriving into Christchurch usually intend to tour, which means they drive and spend widely around the South Island. They don't fly in and out, they go looking for what they've seen in the travel brochures.

"Of all international visitors who fly directly into the South Island, 85% are welcomed and farewelled at Christchurch Airport. That's why our airport is acknowledged as the gateway to the South Island."

Mr Boult says many visitors book flights here based on picturesque images of the South Island.

"We've got it all here - stunning scenery, amazing attractions, exceptional experiences and warm hospitality. It's crucial for us to make it easy for visitors to come in through Christchurch and move around this island and the rest of the country from here.

"It would be very easy to concentrate tourism on one geographical area, but Christchurch is committed to supporting the South Island as a whole, rather than any individual part.  Christchurch makes the South Island more accessible than any other airport. The South Island is as much about areas such as Mount Cook, Dunedin and Kaikoura as it is the recognised tourism hot spots of Queenstown and Milford. "

Mr Boult says arrival numbers are down a little in the wake of the earthquakes, but improving monthly.

"In terms of value to the economy, increasing the number of passengers is vital, but those passengers must be turned into more than numbers for real value to be banked. It's important to focus on how long they stay and how much they see and do, because they become ambassadors for this country when they get home."

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