By Andrew Gibson
Following the devastating earth quake that hit Christchurch earlier in the week, locals are taking advantage of social media sites to offer shelter to those people that have been left homeless.
As the local authorities tackle the difficult job of dealing with the consequences of Tuesday’s tragic earthquake, officials are pleading with tourists to head elsewhere in New Zealand.
Tim Hunter who is from the Christchurch tourist board has asked tourists to leave the area as quickly as possible and is also requesting that new tourists do not arrive. This follows the destruction that has effectively made the city a no-go area.
As authorities search for survivors and look at ways of re-housing locals who have been affected by the earthquake the last thing that they need is to have to cope with looking after tourists as well. It is hoped that holidaymakers will take notice of his advice and head off into other parts of New Zealand.
The country has a reputation of having a great supply of good value holiday rentals on both the north and south island and so tourists should have no problem in finding somewhere else to stay during their vacation. What has compounded the problem is that the worst of the destruction occurred in the centre of Christchurch that is also home to many of the tourist hotels and restaurants.
This has created an immediate shortage of hotel beds with so many hotels affected. It is hoped that the hotels near the local airport can for now cope with the displacement of tourists but this will quickly cease to be the case if new tourists continue to arrive.
Users of Facebook and Twitter have had offers of accommodation from families in Wellington as well as the surrounding areas. Flights are still operating normally to and from Christchurch’s airport but the problem lies with the amount of hotel beds available at the moment. The hotels that are still operating normally are being turned into refuges for those local families who have had their homes destroyed and been made homeless.
What makes the problem even worse is that those tourists who have already tried to escape from the area of destruction have found that the local transport networks are facing massive disruption. It now remains to be seen what harm long term the earthquake will do to the two and a half million holidaymakers who visit this beautiful country each year.