Worst ever case of left luggage
Last updated 05:00 10/04/2011
A logistical nightmare looms for Christchurch hotels as they try to reunite thousands of overseas visitors with personal possessions abandoned when the February 22 earthquake struck.
The tourists fled the city immediately and many had no option but to leave their belongings behind in hotel rooms in the badly damaged CBD.
They are now getting tired of waiting for their property to be shipped home.
The Hotel Council's Bruce Garrett said hoteliers had been working closely with the authorities to get access so they could retrieve luggage and personal items, but so far most hotels were off-limits to all but engineers and Civil Defence.
That situation was expected to change shortly and as soon as access was granted, work would begin on the enormous task of clearing hotel rooms of the personal items left behind.
There had been a flood of inquiries from people overseas wanting their belongings back and some were becoming frustrated by the length of time it was taking.
"People have been understanding of the circumstances, but their patience is starting to run out," Garrett said.
"It's difficult for them to comprehend what is involved in getting in and getting their luggage out.
"They can't understand why we can't just go in and get it."
In some cases, cranes would be needed to get to hotel rooms, but it seemed possible all personal belongings would be retrieved.
Garrett said who then paid to have the items shipped back to their owners was still being discussed.
"It's not something most insurance policies would cover," he said.
It had been suggested that Tourism New Zealand could pick up the tab as a public relations exercise, but the agency did not have a budget for that.