CHRISTCHURCH’S determination to rise from the rubble has been richly rewarded with a spot in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities worldwide to visit in 2013.
It’s expected that a nod from one of the world’s most popular travel guides, which placed Christchurch sixth, will be a boost for the city’s tourism industry which was brought to its knees after the February 2011 earthquake.
San Francisco tops the list, followed by Amsterdam and Hyderabad. Hobart is seventh.
Much of Christchurch’s infrastructure was ruined in the quake and 185 people were killed.
Christchurch was singled out by Lonely Planet for the way it was “bouncing back with a new energy and inventiveness”.
“New Zealand’s second largest city is rising from the rubble … with a breathtaking mix of spirit, determination and flair.”
It’s the only New Zealand city to make the 2013 list.
Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter told AAP the accolade was a tribute to the city’s “let’s get going” attitude and creative approach.
He said some visitors to the region came because they were interested in the impact of the earthquake, but most visited because it remains the main gateway to the South Island and is still a “beautiful garden city”.
“This will certainly help the tourism industry … it’s a priceless recognition of all the hard work that has gone on. We’ve been very wounded, international visitor nights in accommodation are down 50 per cent from before the earthquake.
“It’s Christchurch’s ‘let’s get going’ energy that visitors like. It’s not the old Christchurch that they’re coming to see – like the historical buildings – it’s a city with a bit of energy.”
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker was thrilled Lonely Planet had picked up on all the exciting new aspects of the city.
“It’s a real coup to get Christchurch included in the list of top 10 cities for 2013. As a regular user of Lonely Planet when I am travelling myself I fully understand the significant value of this recommendation.”
Lonely Planet’s Asia Pacific Sales and Marketing Director Christ Zeiher said 2013 would be a great year to visit Christchurch and “experience the amazing energy of the city in its rebuilding phase”.
Tim Dearsley, general manager of Christchurch’s IBIS Hotel which closed after the earthquake but reopened last month, said the listing would bring the city’s recovery forward by a year.