Tourists trickling back to Christchurch

11:23 am on 4 April 2011

Tourism operators in Christchurch say visitors are returning to the city.

But the numbers are small and there is a lack of accommodation and few attractions.

Canterbury Tourism says 80% of hotel rooms are unavailable in the city.

But business development manager Caroline Blanchfield says another hotel, the George, is open again, and motels and bed and breakfasts are filling the gap.

The backpacking sector says about a third of hostel rooms are available.

The two largest operators in Christchurch, YHA and Base Backpackers, are expected to re-open in September.

Meanwhile Christchurch international airport says international passenger numbers to the city are down by nearly a quarter.

Chief executive Jim Boult says domestic passenger loadings have remained roughly the same, but international passenger numbers are markedly lower since the earthquake in February.

Meanwhile, Canterbury Tourism says Christchurch remains the gateway to the South Island.

Chief executive Tim Hunter says a growing number of attractions are open and the New Zealand currency remains cheap against the Australian dollar.

He says Canterbury will target Australia as a key market.