Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Zealand remembers quake victims

A year after being it was struck by a devastating earthquake which wrecked the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand has been remembering the 185 people who died.


Two minutes of silence were observed at 12.51 local time, which was the moment the magnitude 6.3 quake struck the South Island.


Prime Minister John Key said the disaster had "changed everything" but had not broken the city's spirit.


Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said the sense of optimism in the region was strong.


"Christchurch and the Canterbury region have continued to welcome visitors to the area over the past year," he said.  "There is a vibrant range of tourism activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy during their stay both in Christchurch and the surrounding regions.


"As a result, for the year ending September 2011, 47% of all visitors have continued to spend a night in Canterbury as part of their New Zealand stay, against 56% a year before."


While hotel accommodation in Christchurch is still in short-supply, that situation should improve next month when the centrally located 171-room Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch re-opens.


This will be followed by the re-opening of a 155-room Ibis Hotel in September and the Novotel at the end of 2012.


Another four hotel openings are planned for 2013 and construction is underway on a new Latimer Hotel.


By Linsey McNeill

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