Tourists avoid quake city

AUSTRALIANS are the most reluctant tourists to return to Christchurch after its devastating earthquake, the city's tourism head says.

Australia is New Zealand's biggest source of tourists, and Christchurch is still struggling to debunk the perception across the Tasman that it is still one big disaster zone.

The February 2011 quake claimed 185 lives and devastated the CBD but the city is recovering.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter told the Trenz tourism conference in Queenstown on Wednesday that Chinese, south-east Asian and European tourists were returning reasonably quickly while Japanese and Korean tourists had shied away, but were improving.