Canterbury Development Corporation 13

Cruise berth benefits well beyond tourism

Christchurch needs to attract more smart, skilled people to ensure our future prosperity and that’s not just a matter of opinion, it’s a fact.

It was confirmed again in a recent KPMG report on 100 major cities, which concluded that the biggest ingredient in a city’s success was attracting the right people.It’s a critical issue for Christchurch and the region because over the next 15 years we’re expecting to lose 72,500 workers in Canterbury as baby boomers move into retirement.We’re going to need a lot of smart, skilled people to fill the gaps they’ll leave if we want to hold our own, let alone prosper.There is clear evidence that migrants tend to move to countries they are familiar with, and countries in which they have felt welcomed and valued.To attract more migrants, we therefore need to focus on attracting more tourists.

The more visitors we can introduce to our city and to our region, the greater our chances of attracting the migrants we need to succeed.

It’s critical, therefore, that we invest in tourism and make smart, well-informed, future-focussed decisions. Investing in a new cruise terminal at Lyttleton is a particularly smart decision for the region’s future.

The impact from cruise ships is significant – 47 per cent of cruise passengers return to a cruise destination they enjoyed for a longer holiday. It’s all about the experience they have when they’re here.

The absence of a cruise berth at Lyttleton since the earthquakes has seen ships visiting Akaroa and the 77  ships that arrived over the past season placed a huge strain on the small town.

The ability to ease extreme pressures on Akaroa’s facilities and services should result in better community and social outcomes for the town, so it’s a win-win result for both Akaroa and Lyttelton, as well as the wider region.

Lincoln University research estimates that cruise passengers arriving at Lyttleton are likely to spend $13 per person per day more than if they berthed at Akaroa.

While $13 may not sound like much, it turns into a very large sum when multiplied by the number of cruise visitors arriving on ships capable of carrying more than 6500 passengers.

The new Lyttleton berth will enable the very largest of today’s cruise ships to dock, while smaller ones will still be able to visit Akaroa.

It will provide a much needed stimulus to help drive the redevelopment of the Lyttleton commercial centre, providing a boost to accelerate the redevelopment of the retail and hospitality centre.

Both Lyttleton and Akaroa will directly benefit.

Without the decision to invest $56 million in the Lyttleton cruise berth, there would have been a real risk that our region ended up being bypassed by the cruise companies in favour of other ports.

That would have been a major blow to our goal of increasing visitor numbers.

The old stereotype of cruise ship passengers being wealthy retirees is no longer true.

Of course there will always be retired folk on board, but cruise passengers these days are just as likely to be families and skilled professionals – the very people who will contribute to our economy and our communities if they later choose to live here.

Canterbury is renowned for its warm and welcoming people.

That will be a great asset when the big cruise ships start arriving in Lyttleton again.

The better the experience we give our visitors, the more likely we are to attract them back to help us drive our future prosperity.

Opinion article by CDC Chief Executive Tom Hooper featured in The Press, Friday 19 May 2017