Selwyn gets ready for more international tourists this season

Columns
Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Selwyn businesses in the accommodation, hospitality and visitor attraction sector are gearing up for a busy spring and summer season.

Tourism is growing fast, and playing an expanding role in our local and national economy.

According to Statistics New Zealand figures for the 12 months until the end of August, visitor arrivals in New Zealand reached a new all-time record of 3.36 million. This represents a significant 11 percent increase compared with the year to August 2015. Strong growth in visitor arrivals from China and Australia made up a large part of this increase.

Christchurch International Airport, one of the main gateways into Selwyn, is seeing record international visitor arrival growth. Long haul international visitor numbers arriving in Christchurch last financial year grew by 15% over the previous year, with particularly strong growth from UK and European arrivals. In addition, holiday arrivals from Australia are now also growing strongly, with July’s 18% increase the highest of any New Zealand airport.

This looks set to continue with a recent announcement that Emirates will soon fly the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the A380, into Christchurch every day. The A380 will fly Christchurch- Sydney- Dubai and onward to 38 destinations in Europe, 22 in Africa and 17 in the Middle East, so will give locals even more convenient flight options to the UK and Europe.

Across New Zealand, visitor arrivals are forecast to grow 5.4 per cent a year and to reach 4.5 million visitors in 2022. This carries with it enormous opportunities for local businesses and is why the Government is assisting regional communities to invest in the infrastructure needed to underpin this growing part of our economy.

Our regional economies have become more diversified, and our businesses have branched out into new areas of activity – be it niche manufacturing, ICT, specialist horticultural industries, or into services such as education and tourism.

The outcome of this kind of diversification is evident in our falling unemployment rate, strong wage growth and fast-growing economy. This strong economy is in spite of the challenges of recent years including the international financial crisis, the devastating impact of the Canterbury earthquakes, and the decline in some commodity prices, including dairy.

Many regions and sectors have risen to the challenge by adapting and adjusting to changing circumstances, and by seizing opportunities. I see constantly this willingness to give new ventures a go and try doing things differently when I am out and about around Selwyn and I applaud it.