Hotel stock hit hard by quake

The earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, hit tourism infrastructure quite hard, particularly hotel stock and some of the inner city attractions like Cathedral Square, according the New Zealand Herald.

"At the moment we've really just got the airport hotels that are relatively unscathed, but it's certainly not enough to meet the needs of an entire inbound tourism industry," Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Chief Executive Tim Hunter told the paper. "I think we're just going to have to accept for a while that people will fly into Christchurch airport and they will move (away) ... to start their South Island holiday while we rebuild."

Among the hardest hit hotels was the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which Mayor Bob Parker told the paper will need to be demolished if it doesn't collapse on its own. -- Jeri Clausing

New Zealand is temporarily allowing tourists in Christchurch to fly out on government-sponsored flights without photo IDs or passports, according to a U.S. State Department alert. The departure rules have been relaxed for tourists who may have lost that documentation following the 6.3-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.

"At this time no passport or photo ID is required for the New Zealand government-sponsored flights," the alert says.

Commercial flights are operating within New Zealand from Christchurch to Auckland and Wellington. U.S. Consular personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Auckland and the U.S. Embassy in Washington are assisting U.S. citizens arriving in Auckland and Wellington with documentation of citizenship, onward travel and emergency needs, according to the State Department.

Air New Zealand, meanwhile, has added extra flights out of Christchurch and is offering one-way fares of $38 plus tax for domestic flights in and out of Christchurch through Friday. The carrier also is offering reduced "compassionate" fares for family members flying in and out.

Tourism New Zealand said the state of emergency in Christchurch is expected to last at least seven days. The city center is shut off to visitors as workers search for survivors and bodies.

The official death toll has risen to 102, but hundreds remain missing.


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