‘Minor’ quake fallout for Queenstown

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Queenstown tourism leaders are confident there’ll be no reverberations from the Kaikoura earthquakes, but are vowing to remain vigilant.

They say a nationwide effort is under way to reassure travel wholesalers and agents overseas that the rest of the country is unaffected.

Tourism Export Council boss Lesley Immink says inbound tour operators are ”heads-down” changing itineraries where necessary and spreading a ”business as usual” message.

Most travellers are ”sophisticated consumers who can read between the lines”, she says, who know New Zealand remains a safe place to visit, especially compared with other parts of the world.

Hotel consultant and Queenstown councillor Penny Clark says any impact is likely to be minor, but she’s keen for the resort’s big tourism players to meet and discuss the situation.

”We can’t just sit here and react – we need to be in control of the situation.”

Clark says people abroad could gain a false impression of the scale of the disaster from dramatic images in the news.

”After the Christchurch earthquake we certainly felt some impact – even from Australia – with people thinking the whole South Island had had an earthquake so you couldn’t go there.”

”I think we’re going to be busy enough this summer, but it may moderate things.”

Independent, self-driving travellers are more likely to be deterred than large tour groups, she says.

Destination Queenstown marketing and communications boss Sarah O’Donnell says it’s working with the national Visitor Sector Emergency Advisory Group to develop ”key messaging” in response to the earthquake.

”The industry is working collaboratively to promote the message internationally that outside the directly affected areas, the rest of New Zealand is open for business.”

Otago Daily Times