Through its connections with local council and civil defence, staff at the i-SITE provided a valuable link between service providers and visitors needing information and support for travel and accommodation.
The storm and subsequent flooding resulted in tourists losing access to their rental vehicles and the TranzAlpine rail travel cancelled its return trip to Christchurch due to a slip on the line, affecting more than 200 visitors.
“The situation changed rapidly and the biggest job we had was dealing with misplaced tourists due to travel on the train back to Christchurch,” said Greymouth i-SITE General Manager, Gina Ashworth.
The i-SITE team worked closely with Kiwi Rail to find creative solutions for misplaced travellers.
“We had the task of finding coaches and drivers to take the 200-plus passengers to Christchurch, where they had their accommodation booked, all the while keeping them informed and looked after,” said Ms Ashworth.
The i-SITE team got passengers and their luggage onto coaches and sorted out those with upcoming flights. They also went the extra mile to care for locals and visitors without an immediate support network.
“We had one elderly lady quite upset having just lost her husband that week and due to visit Christchurch to see her sister who was unwell. The team took her out back to the office, sat her down and made her a cup of tea and reassured her we would do our best to get her to Christchurch that night.
“It really is just a friendly face and reassurance some customers need.”
National i-SITE Executive Manager, Paul Yeo says while i-SITE Visitor Centres are known for their knowledge of local attractions and accommodation they also play a crucial role in supporting their local communities.
“Our i-SITE teams are famous for their welcome and friendly travel advice, and often become a trusted contact for visitors and locals during times of crisis,” said Mr Yeo.
“It says a lot for the dedication of the teams to their community, particularly at a time when they have their own homes, families and friends impacted by the events.
“Wherever our visitors travel in New Zealand, there is always an i-SITE close by where they can get local information on accommodation, travel, attractions and how to keep safe and well in New Zealand.
“They play a hugely important role in ensuring tourists in New Zealand have a positive visitor experience.”
The Greymouth i-SITE is one of more than 80 i-SITE Visitor Centres located across the country, which see around 7.3 million local, domestic and international visitors each year. The i-SITE network is equipped to provide visitors with the most up to date visitor information, including how to stay safe and well in New Zealand.
For more information: www.newzealand.com/isite