26 Nov 2013

Quakes not good for tourism - report

5:57 pm on 26 November 2013

A report into the tourism sector says the Canterbury earthquakes have had a profoundly adverse affect on tourism.

The report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released on Tuesday says the quakes in 2010 and 2011 have significantly changed travel plans.

Christchurch has historically acted as a transport hub and gateway to the South Island, but the report says accommodation capacity in the badly damaged city is about 60% of what it was before the quakes.

Tourists are spending almost a third less in New Zealand than they were 10 years ago.

The report says arrivals to New Zealand from China have jumped almost a third since last year to 210,000 visitors. But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says while people are travelling more, they're spending less.

"People are travelling more and competition is increasing. So our visitor numbers to New Zealand have increased, but actually the time spent here and the spend per visitor has been declining. And that's a challenge for us."

The report says tourism is the country's second biggest export category after dairy, employs 137,600 workers (full and part-time), and estimates that combined domestic and international tourism is worth almost $24 billion.