New winter travel campaign for Canterbury

New winter travel campaign for Canterbury

The Canterbury region is preparing for its most lucrative winter travel period in a decade with local businesses anticipating a bumper ski season and high demand across the school holidays.

ChristchurchNZ Head of Tourism Kath Low says this year’s winter travel promotion is targeted at travellers looking to book the ultimate family getaway. “Tourism operators around the country understand the immense pressures on families to balance holiday experiences with a modern budget. Parents and caregivers are looking for fun ways to make memories and make the most of their trip at an affordable price. Our approach this year is to educate Kiwis that Christchurch and the Canterbury region are the ultimate family destination and a perfect place for a winter break.”

Over 30 partners have joined the campaign in a ‘Winter Deals’ program, sharing discounts or free add-ons to assist families and small groups to the destination, all designed to slow travellers down, extend their nights stay, explore the revitalised city centre and drive consideration into conversion in major fly and drive markets.

“We’re looking forward to a busy winter,” says Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Justin Watson. “Demand for travel to Christchurch and the South Island remains strong and key airlines have bolstered their services for the coming season. Both Qantas and Jetstar have increased their trans-Tasman services. Qantas has increased its capacity by 8.4% while Jetstar has boosted its international capacity by 15.1% with the Christchurch-Melbourne service up to five return flights per week. This all translates to our cousins across the ditch having fantastic access to Christchurch during the peak winter travel period and a potentially bumper ski season.”

Alongside resuming major international and domestic flight services, the addition of three new hotels to the city centre since 2022 also expands accommodation capacity and provides competitive pricing in the sector. Despite the additional supply, hotels such as the Rydges Latimer were near full capacity.

“As an accommodation provider, it has been fantastic to see an extended summer of events in the city, including the Electric Avenue music festival, a Trans-Tasman cricket Test, two Warriors games and the bonus SailGP regatta pushing into late March,” says Rydges Latimer General Manager Craig Wood. “Being in a prime city-centre location, we have enjoyed a busy summer period with guests coming from all over the country to enjoy what Ōtautahi has to offer. Incentivising an extra night’s stay is a win-win for the city. Everyone from accommodation providers to hospitality, tourism attractions and retail benefit from additional time spent here. Christchurch does winter incredibly well; with a dozen ski fields so close and this vibrant, new city, we are ready to welcome back the country, and the world.”

Tourism providers from across the region have joined the campaign. From Banks Peninsula to the Southern Alps and throughout the city, families will be able to save on group experiences and do much more on their dollar, including bucket list activities like Hector’s dolphin cruises in Akaroa and train journey through the Southern Alps. Ski operators are most excited about what winter holds.

“Christchurch is the gateway to Canterbury’s smorgasbord of ski areas, offering a variety of snow, ski, and snowboard experiences,” says Selwyn district’s Principal Advisor for Economic Development Shay Robinson. “From the easy access of Mt Hutt to the adventurous smaller ski areas in the Selwyn region, there is over 3600 vertical metres and more than 1600 hectares of terrain to explore with two hours of the city. Families are well catered for at Porters, the closest ski area to Christchurch, with beginner packages inclusive of lift access, ski hire, lessons and this year’s snow play initiative. For more adventurous families, there are plenty of options to stay close to the ski areas, with on-mountain accommodation, inclusive of catering and bunk style lodging, including Mt Cheeseman, Broken River, and Craigieburn Valley.”

In the winter of 2023, $226 million was spent in Christchurch June-August. International visitor spending made up $48.4 million of this, a 41% increase from the same period in 2022. Spending by Australians made up 25% of international visitor spend in winter 2023, with spend up 6% from the same period in 2022. This was followed by visitors from the USA at 21% of international visitor spend, up 18% from June-August 2022.

Visitors from Auckland made up the largest contribution to domestic visitor spend over the winter period at 19%. Other highest spending markets included people living outside of the ChristchurchNZ RTO area but within wider Canterbury (17% of domestic visitor spend) as well as Otago (13%) and Wellington (10%). Additionally, international visitor spending in Christchurch hit record heights during summer 2023/24, with monthly spending reaching a new record of $46.1 million in December 2023, up $12.9 million from the same month in 2022.

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