Christchurch: Lonely Planet boost for tourism

By Cleo Fraser

Christchurch's determination to rise from the rubble has been richly rewarded with a spot in Lonely Planet's top 10 cities worldwide to visit in 2013.

Lonely Planet says Christchurch is "bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness''. Photo / Thinkstock
Lonely Planet says Christchurch is "bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness''. Photo / Thinkstock

It's expected that a nod from one of the world's most popular travel guides, which placed Christchurch sixth, will be a boost for the city's tourism industry that was brought to its knees after the February 2011 earthquake.

Much of the city's infrastructure was ruined in the quake and 185 people were killed.

Christchurch was singled out by Lonely Planet for the way it was "bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness''.

"New Zealand's second largest city is rising from the rubble... with a breathtaking mix of spirit, determination and flair.''

It's the only New Zealand city to make the 2013 list, while Hobart is the only Australian city to make the cut.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said the accolade was a tribute to the city's "let's get going'' attitude and creative approach.

He says some visitors to the region came because they were interested in the impact of the earthquake, but most visited because it remains the main gateway to the South Island and is still a "beautiful garden city''.

"This will certainly help the tourism industry... it's a priceless recognition of all the hard work that has gone on. We've been very wounded, international visitor nights in accommodation are down 50 per cent from before the earthquake.

"It's Christchurch's `let's get going' energy that visitors like. It's not the old Christchurch that they're coming to see - like the historical buildings - it's a city with a bit of energy.''

Mr Hunter says projects like Gap Filler in which dull public spaces, such as spots where buildings had been torn down and removed, display art or offer entertainment, had been popular.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is thrilled Lonely Planet has picked up on all the exciting new aspects of the city.

"It's a real coup to get Christchurch included in the list of top 10 cities for 2013. As a regular user of Lonely Planet when I am travelling myself I fully understand the significant value of this recommendation.''

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend says this shows the world how far the city has progressed since the quake.

"Hopefully we're going to see a lot more visitors heading our way as a result of this endorsement,'' he said.

Lonely Planet's Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Director Christ Zeiher says 2013 will be a great year to visit Christchurch and "experience the amazing energy of the city in its rebuilding phase''.

Tim Dearsley, general manager of Christchurch's IBIS Hotel which closed after the earthquake hit but reopened last month, says the Lonely Planet listing will bring the city's recovery forward by a year.

Christchurch's Double-decker bus tour company Hassle-free Tours is mentioned in the 2013 Lonely Planet guide as one of the best ways to explore the city.

Co-owner Mark Gilbert, who last month won the Pacific Asia Travel Association Young Tourism Entrepreneur Award, says being mentioned in the "travellers' bible'' is a fantastic achievement.

Lonely Planet's Top 10 Cities 2013:

1. San Francisco

2. Amsterdam

3. Hyderabad

4. Derry/Londonderry

5. Beijing

6. Christchurch

7. Hobart

8. Montreal

9. Addis Ababa

10. Puerto Iguazu

- AAP

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