This sector includes short-term accommodation for visitors, such as hotels, motels and backpackers. It also includes hospitality, food and beverage services that provide meals, snacks and beverages to be consumed either on the premises or at another venue, such as a café, restaurant, bar or take-away service.

The Accommodation and Food Services sector underpins tourism activities in the city. Tourism is an important export income earner for Christchurch. The city has traditionally been seen as the gateway for tourism in the South Island for international visitors. Christchurch Airport (CIAL) is second only to Auckland in terms of international arrivals to New Zealand. These sectors also support domestic tourists and people travelling to the city for business.

These sectors provide an important social function for people living and working in Christchurch and support business activities through the provision of function rooms and catering services.

Christchurch Quick Facts

  • Contributes approximately $387 million to Christchurch GDP (Infometrics’ Estimate year ended June 2014, $2010)
  • Accounts for around two percent of GDP in Christchurch
  • Around 1,558 business units are based in Christchurch (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
  • Has around 11,940 employees (2014, Statistics New Zealand)

Christchurch Quick Facts

  • Contributes approximately $387 million to Christchurch GDP (Infometrics’ Estimate year ended June 2013, $2010)
  • Accounts for around two percent of GDP in Christchurch
  • Around 1,558 business units are based in Christchurch (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
  • Has around 11,940 employees (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
Accommodation and Food Services Sector Employment Breakdown, 2014
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Sub-SectorEmployee Count% of total
Accommodation226019%
Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services803067%
Pubs, Clubs, Taverns and Bars166014%
Total11,940

Sector Trends

Earthquakes

The earthquakes have had a significant impact on the Accommodation and Food Services sector and related tourism activities. For example, the central city – where many accommodation and food sector businesses were located – suffered major damage and destruction, and there was a subsequent decline in visitor numbers.

While occupancy rates remained relatively normal (51 percent on average through 2013 – excluding holiday parks – the same as the average between 2001 and 2010), much of this was driven by the lower number of facilities available; the inflow of recovery workers initially after the earthquakes; and some displaced residents (during home repairs). This sector is likely to feel pressure for some time but as the rebuild continues and the new central city is developed, the sector should be boosted by people wanting to experience the new Christchurch, including its new
or re-opened hotels and eateries.

Before the earthquakes, Christchurch hosted a large number of international visitors. In 2010 there were 2,435 international guest nights. These visitors spend more money in the city than domestic visitors. The number has since fallen to 1,553 (in 2012). International travel has also been hindered by the global financial slow-down, which has reduced disposable income for many people.

Gateway Position

Christchurch has traditionally acted as, and been viewed as, the natural gateway to the South Island. Increasing demand for adventure, wine and nature tourism, and the other activities that the wider South Island has to offer, reinforces the need for this industry to support visitor attraction. These activities also help maintain the value of Christchurch International Airport (CIAL), helping it to continue to attract airlines and hold its position against other airports in the South Island such as Queenstown.

Developing Markets

Despite a global slow-down, large populations live in economies that are becoming more affluent and, in the future, Christchurch should see increased visitors from these markets. Growth in visitor numbers is expected particularly from China, India and South Korea, as well as Australia, which has seen strong growth over the decade and provides a lot of repeat visitors.

Sector Initiatives

Central City Recovery Plan

A plan for the central city was released by the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) on 30 July 2012. This plan will contribute significantly to the regeneration of the city tourism sector. This includes a green urban frame, the Avon River precinct, a new convention centre, a multi-purpose stadium and a performing arts and music precinct.

Tourism Sector Strategy

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) has developed a recovery-focused strategy that integrates with other stakeholders and plans (such as the Central City Recovery Plan and the hotel sector) to help the tourism sector. This strategy focuses on improving air services, sports tourism and education tourism.