Tuesday, 15 November 2016

NEW ZEALAND: Earthquakes Affect Tourism in New Zealand

Tourism operators have been affected by the earthquakes.

New Zealand's booming tourism industry is at risk of being harmed by the South Island earthquakes, forcing the government and operators into damage control in overseas markets.

Prime Minister John Key and tourism organisations say there is a risk overseas markets will get the wrong idea about the size of the area affected.

One Chinese inbound operator said there had been a lot of discussion about the earthquakes at a travel trade event in Shanghai yesterday but she had not been told of any cancellations from groups or individuals.

The Chinese market grew at nearly 24 per cent to more than 400,000 in the last year but is susceptible to shocks such as natural disasters and terrorism, which had deterred tourists from China visiting Europe in the last 12 months.

China Travel Services founder Lisa Li said because there wasn't a high death toll from this week's quakes she did not think visitors would be put off.

Her firm had posted video on social media showing tourists continuing to enjoy their holidays.

Campervan rental company Tourism Holdings said it was helping re-route visitors around the affected area.

"The industry appears very aligned, that we are open for business across the country,'' said Tourism Holdings chief executive Grant Webster.

''Every destination in the world has its own idiosyncrasies and the feedback I have heard from the team talking to customers on the ground is that even those trapped in Kaikoura are looking to carry on as normal.''

Tourism Export Council chief executive Lesley Immink said while the China market ''took a big gulp",' she had heard no reports of cancellations.

''The positive stories about how New Zealand deals with adversity far outweigh the negative ones.''

There were other parts of the world that suffered from disasters on a far more frequent basis than New Zealand.

The positive stories about how New Zealand deals with adversity far outweigh the negative ones.Lesley Immink, CEO Tourism Export Council

Tourism New Zealand is charged with marketing the country overseas and said its current focus was on working alongside other agencies and the industry to get accurate information about the current situation in New Zealand, out to trade partners.

''We want people to understand that much of New Zealand is unaffected by the recent quakes and that there are many alternatives available to people who wish to travel here, but have concerns,'' said spokeswoman Deborah Gray.

''In the coming weeks we will look at whether specific campaigns are needed in response to this week's events.''

Prime Minister John Key said the risk was serious.

''The thing I don't like about it is these images were all around the world, we did quite a bit of international media, people cut off your coverage, people just worry about earthquakes," Key, who is also Tourism Minister, told TVNZ's Breakfast.

"We need to reassure people that the quality of our buildings is very high, truthfully still, the probability of an earthquake is very low, and we're good at handling that."

The way the country handled and coped with tourists after disasters was critically important, Key said.

We need to reassure people that the quality of our buildings is very high, truthfully still, the probability of an earthquake is very low, and we're good at handling that.