Inbound tourism boosts Christchurch

8:37 pm on 26 December 2012

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism says local operators are seeing a solid lift in tourist numbers from key overseas markets.

Tourism in the quake-hit province has plummeted over the past two years, with many hotels and tourist attractions severely damaged or destroyed.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter says one big plus was the region's designation as a top tourism destination by the travel guide publisher Lonely Planet.

He says it's had other big successes with all the major Asian markets, as well as the United States segment growing again, compared to 2011.

Mr Hunter says the number of Australians visiting is rising, with guest nights for those tourists up 12% for October compared with the same time last year.

Australian holiday arrivals in September were up 10% on last year while October's figures climbed 8%.

Canterbury also claimed nine spots in the AA Travel's 101 'must-do' list, with a visit to Hanmer Springs ranked number one.

Mr Hunter says it is now vital the region gets an increase in hotel and airline capacity to support its ongoing recovery.

He says the wider Canterbury region is popular, but tourists are also finding Christchurch itself an exciting destination.

Mr Hunter says the city is still short of hotels but bed numbers are expected to lift by 40-percent over the coming year.