As Christchurch reopens, New Zealand steps up tourism efforts

New Zealand tourism authorities have reiterated that their country is still "open for travellers" as Christchurch continues with recovery efforts after the devastating earthquake which hit last month.

In a statement, Tourism New Zealand said that tourism services in all parts of the country except for Christchurch are operating as usual, with all airports (including Christchurch) open as normal.

On March 8, New Zealand's National Crisis Management Centre lifted its restrictions against non-essential travel to Christchurch, and although the city's tourism body cautioned that some tourism operations remain severely disrupted, it welcomed the news as a "positive development."

The wider Canterbury region, including Akaroa, Kaikoura, Mackenzie Country and Hanmer Springs, are all operating as normal, said a statement on the organization's website.

Tourism New Zealand says that it has now started planning campaigns for Australia, its major incoming market (and itself coping with a series of natural disasters this year) and other countries, focusing on a "strong destination message."

In a bid to support the effort, a group of Kiwi travel bloggers is attempting to organize a three-day "blogging marathon" to raise awareness of New Zealand as a travel destination - and the fact that tourism is the number one contributor to the country's GDP.

Travel blogs around the world have been invited to publish destination pieces on New Zealand between March 21 and 23, and publicize them on Twitter using the hashtag #Blog4NZ - for more information on the campaign, and to read the entries, visit the group's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/blog4nz.

Tourism New Zealand: http://www.newzealand.com/

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