Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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Sad news today from my hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand where organisers of this year’s Rugby World Cup have decided to move all games from the earthquake-hit city to alternative locations.
Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully (below) made the announcement today, noting that the two quarter-finals will go to Auckland and the five pool matches will be divided between other venues. He hoped some of these would remain in the South Island.
So do we. This is just another blow to the people of Christchurch after the two severe quakes of recent months. The World Cup would have brought tourists and business. And it would have helped reinvigorate the shattered city.
That being said, the stadium damage was considered too great for the Government and organisers to be able to guarantee it would be ready in time. The entire playing surface also needs to be replaced.
But don’t get me wrong. Christchurch is still alive and kicking. Its people are both stoical and forward thinking. It remains the gateway to the beautiful South Island and as a city and province (Canterbury) in its own right is one of the loveliest places on the planet.
I spoke at length recently to Christchurch International Airport Manager – Commercial Development Julie-Ann Beattie about the best way we could help the city’s recovery. Her reply was unequivocal. “The most positive thing The Moodie Report and its industry partners can do is to help when the time is right, to reinforce to the greater travel and airport community the fact the Christchurch is open for business and tourism via positive news stories, coverage of the new terminal etc.
“Christchurch and much of the South Island is very reliant upon tourism. If tourists stay away, then jobs will be lost and the economy will suffer. [Airport CEO] Jim Boult is leading an industry taskforce of airlines and tourism leaders to formulate strategies to ensure that tourists don’t give up on Christchurch and the greater New Zealand market.”
So there you have it. The fightback starts here. Yes, Christchurch has lost its World Cup games but that is minor compared to the loss of life suffered. The Garden City will bloom again and I, for one, plan an extended stay there later this year before taking in the World Cup elsewhere in the country.