Cruise ships big bonus for Akaroa

7:44 am on 24 February 2012

Cruise ships are a boon for the Akaroa economy since the February earthquake last year.

About 80 ships will have docked at the village on Banks Peninsula by the end of April this year. They started arriving in October.

Port Lyttelton would usually host most of the ships, but quake damage forced it to close its cruise facilities.

Akaroa-Wairewa community board chair Pam Richardson, says the ships are expected to bring in about 90,000 people and the extra traffic has given a boost to the economy there.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter says the effect of the earthquakes can be gauged in several ways - one of which is the number of nights tourists spend in the region.

Only 14 hotels are operational, compared to 35 before the earthquakes.

Christchurch airport chief operating officer Andy Lester says passenger numbers are another gauge.

Passenger numbers at have increased by about 30%since last February. But they are not back to pre-quake numbers.

Airport company chief operating officer Andy Lester

Mr Hunter says tourist operators have been forced to adapt, with several sightseeing companies focusing on the effect of the earthquakes.

But not all operators are able to adapt so easily and many are still struggling.