New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has officially re-opened the Ibis Christchurch – the first city centre hotel to open since the February 2011 earthquake.
The Prime Minister was on hand to unveil a commemorative plaque and cut the Ibis hotel designed cake to celebrate the official opening, together with Accor’s Vice President for New Zealand and Fiji, Garth Simmons.
Over 50 people attended the event including industry partners, local businesses and residents along with the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee and Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker.
Speaking at the official opening, the Prime Minister acknowledged Accor’s commitment to Christchurch and that the opening of the Ibis hotel will add much needed capacity for the city.
“For any city like the size of Christchurch to function we need hotel rooms, because off the base of those hotel rooms comes all the tourism activity which underpin a vibrant city like Christchurch,” Key said.
“The city has been operating with around about half of the hotel rooms that we need, so the opening of a hotel like Ibis Christchurch is not only lifting room capacity but it’s also sending a big message that by having somewhere to stay, Christchurch is open for business.”
Accor’s Simmons said the re-opening of the Ibis Christchurch has come exactly two years after the first major quake hit Christchurch.
“We are very proud of where we are today, not only to be reopening the Ibis Christchurch hotel two years on from the September quake, but of the physical and emotional strength that has been shown by our team, lead by General Manger of the hotel, Tim Dearsley and also the General Manager of the future Novotel hotel Carl Braddock,” he said.
“We are very grateful to the New Zealand Government and the City of Christchurch for all their continued support in helping us re-open this hotel. And we extend a special thank you to Mayor Bob Parker for including us in his recent Sydney roadshow, which resulted in fantastic publicity for Christchurch and our Ibis hotel.
“As a company we are committed to the success and revitalisation of Christchurch and will focus all our resources on the city moving forward, including the opening of our second hotel the Novotel Cathedral Square in about 12 months time.
“We thank the Prime Minister for his tremendous support and taking time to officially reopen our Ibis hotel and his seal of approval will help increase the spotlight on Christchurch,” Simmons said.
The re-opening of Ibis Christchurch is set to help accelerate the city’s regeneration process and will allow significant progress to be made in reviving Christchurch’s central business district and tourism industry.
The hotel has undergone major remedial work, including the renovation of all 155 rooms and public areas, as well as structural strengthening to meet the city’s new building code. The Ibis received only minor damage and re-opens as a virtually new hotel featuring the latest Ibis branding and facilities.
The Ibis Christchurch Hotel is located at 107 Hereford Street, just off Cathedral Square and is adjacent to the new “pop up” shopping heart of Christchurch, the Re:START Mall in Cashel Street.
Meanwhile, TripAdvisor has revealed that Australian travellers’ interest in Christchurch has more than doubled in the past year (up 250%), despite the devastating earthquakes between September 2010 and February 2011.
“More than before, Australian travellers are using TripAdvisor to search for information on Christchurch, indicating potential growth in travel demand for New Zealand’s garden city,” said TripAdvisor spokesperson Jean Ow-Yeong.
“Further development by Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism and the re-opening of the Ibis Christchurch are indeed timely to meet the needs of more travellers and help promote tourism to this beautiful and resilient city.”
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Chief Executive Tim Hunter added: “Christchurch is emerging as one of the most creative and exciting cities in New Zealand, and Australian visitors coming here are finding it an intriguing holiday destination.
“What visitors to Christchurch find now is a city unlike any other in the world – a city where determination has led to innovative developments like colourful shipping container shopping malls and pop-up bars and restaurants. We’re still a glorious garden city but now we offer something unique,” he said.