Keynote speaker and CEO of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism Tim Hunter addressed a full delegation at the Council for Australasian University Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE) conference, being held at Lincoln University this week.
Over 200 delegates attended the first day (Tuesday 12 February) of the highly prestigious conference – the first year it has been held outside Australia.
With the longest running undergraduate programme in tourism in New Zealand, Lincoln University Professor of Tourism, and Course Convenor, David Simmons says Christchurch is the ideal place to host a conference on tourism and global change.
“Lincoln University has a long-standing history in the field of tourism, so to host an international conference of this calibre, with experts from all over the world, is a real honour,” says Professor Simmons.
“Discussion around the impact of global change on tourism, and how we can be better prepared is imperative – and this has never been more relevant than in Christchurch today.”
The focus for the first keynote speaker, Tim Hunter, was how the earthquakes have impacted tourism in Canterbury and the challenges of disaster recovery.
“There is no event since World War II that has disrupted our tourism industry by so much and for so long,” said Mr Hunter. “Tourism is up there with dairy as one of our main export earners. But almost overnight, Canterbury dropped 46% in international guest nights compared to national figures.”
Mr Hunter says the leisure tourism market is now recovering. This has been helped by an increase in accommodation; by December 2015, available accommodation will have grown 36% to 6,196 rooms. Lonely Planet has also named Christchurch in their top ten cities for Best In Travel 2013. Targeted campaigns, particularly through the use of online initiatives, have appealed to key inbound tourism markets.
“One of the key things to emerge from our experience is it has highlighted the pivotal role that tourism plays in our regional and national economy,” says Mr Hunter. “Tourism improvements, such as accommodation re-instatement, a new convention centre, the development of key air routes, and establishing a sports tourism strategy will play a pivotal role in getting our region back on its feet.”
Now in its 23rd year, the annual CAUTHE conference represents universities in Australia and New Zealand that teach and research tourism and hospitality. The conference will continue through to Friday, and will include a varied programme focusing on tourism, risk and resilience; global change and the environment; tourism, productivity and innovation; transforming people and places through tourism; and indigenous tourism in a changing world – among many other themes.