Sleepless Boult keeps Chch Airport open

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Jim Boult hasn’t had much sleep. 

The Queenstowner in charge of Christchurch International Airport has been working virtually round the clock since the disastrous earthquake struck on Tuesday to ensure the southern gateway is open for flights bringing in essential personnel for the rescue effort. 

“A fair number of our people have just had to work through – we’re an essential service and you just have to do that,” Boult tells scene.co.nz. 

‘This will strangle tourism’

On the Queenstown front, Boult predicts the huge quake will “strangle” tourism in the resort. 

“The majority of the [Christchurch CBD] hotels have been closed simply because of concern over structural problems and I would think it’ll be a reasonable while before a number of them open again,” Boult says. 

“For long-haul flights, Christchurch is the gateway to Queenstown and if accommodation is not available it has got to have a strangling effect.”
 
Boult, who lives at Queenstown’s Lake Hayes, adds: “It would be naive to think that’s not going to happen.” 

DQ helping counterparts, working with national agencies to restructure travel plans 

Destination Queenstown chief executive Tony Everitt says the immediate priority is on the rescue and recovery efforts in Christchurch but he has been in contact with Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism boss Tim Hunter. 

“They don’t have much office capability so we’re working through how we use our resources to assist them.” 

On a local front, Everitt says Destination Queenstown is also working with national agencies to address the needs of tourists already in the country or arriving soon. 

“We’re working with national agencies, Tourism NZ, Air New Zealand, to reinforce to the message to the global marketplace that Queenstown has room availability and of course it’s business as usual here. 

“The whole travel industry worldwide is looking to restructure programmes at the moment to basically address the needs of visitors in the country or looking to come to the country,” Everitt says. 

“In terms of visitor impacts on Queenstown it’s a fluid situation. It might be a bit premature to jump to conclusions about what this means. 

“Some members are reporting they are getting cancellations. Others are reporting they are picking up traffic that is diverting from Christchurch. 

“The situation is dynamic and evolving daily and we’re keeping an ear very close to ground and modifying our programme day to day,” Everitt adds.