INDEPENDENT NEWS

Canterbury top escape destination

Published: Wed 28 Nov 2007 04:11 PM
November 28, 2007
Canterbury top escape destination
Canterbury’s friendly people, beautiful landscapes and urban attractions are quickly earning the region a reputation as the perfect place in which to escape and refresh your batteries.
The results of the latest Regional Visitor Monitor (RVM) show Christchurch and Canterbury standing out from other regions on the strength of its friendly people, its relaxing environment, beautiful buildings and unspoiled natural landscapes.
“The feedback from our visitors show they really prize Christchurch and Canterbury as a destination they can escape to, recharge and refresh,’’ says Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince.
‘”They really appreciate not only our natural assets and our key urban attractions such as our art galleries and museums but also the friendliness of the welcome they receive. A growing proportion of our visitors are saying they want to come back and the numbers recommending the region as a holiday destination is also growing.
“That’s a fantastic endorsement for our region and shows people are gaining an appreciation for exactly how much we have to offer.’’
Canterbury’s latest visitor monitor also highlighted development opportunities for Christchurch, including the need for a floral or garden show event, and further shopping opportunities for visitors.
Christine Prince said this endorsed the Christchurch City Council’s recent decision to bid for the Ellerslie Flower Show, to be staged in Christchurch annually from 2009. “Plans to broaden our Garden City proposition are being welcomed by visitors as well as travel industry experts,” she said.
The survey, done by Wellington-based Angus & Associates, involved interviews with 1200 visitors to the region over a year. Of those surveyed, 81 per cent (10% more than the national benchmark) said they would recommend people holiday in the region and 82% said they were highly satisfied with their visit (compared with the national benchmark of 72%).
The RVM was developed as a joint venture between the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism New Zealand, and New Zealand’s six largest Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs).
Using standardised surveys, the RVM gathers information from each region about visitors’ motivations and expectations, travel planning and patterns of visitor activity, visitor satisfaction, and visitor expenditure
The RTOs can then use the result to guide their decision-making and to track changes in their region over time.
“It provides us with a quarterly snapshot of what is driving visitors to our region and what they liked and disliked about their stay,’’ says Christine Prince. “It helps us to pinpoint our strengths and to identify areas where we can still do some work to enhance the visitor experience. ‘’
The RVM survey gave respondents the opportunity to comment on the highlights of their visit to Christchurch & Canterbury. The most common highlights mentioned during the months of July to September 2007 were the region’s friendly people, beautiful scenery and buildings (particularly the Cathedral), and the city’s art gallery, Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum and markets.
The city trams, gondola and TranzAlpine train trip were also regular highlights, along with Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens, and the city’s bars and restaurants. Visitors specifically mentioned favourite attractions such as the Antarctic Centre, punting on the Avon, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Katoro – the new Maori waka experience, Tamaki Heritage Experiences, Terrace Downs golf resort, Hector’s dolphin watching at Lyttleton, and central city hotels such as the Millennium.
Outside of Christchurch, Akaroa and Hanmer Springs rated tops with domestic visitors while Aoraki Mt Cook was top of the must-see attractions in Canterbury for international visitors.
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