A new report estimates Antarctic-related activities pump $178 million into the New Zealand economy with Canterbury the major beneficiary.
National Antarctic programmes run by New Zealand, the US, Italy and the Republic of Korea contribute $167m annually, buying goods and services from more than 900 firms.
The report said the multiplier effect of downstream and household spending meant the full economic impact for the country was $432m, and almost 7000 jobs – more than half of them in Canterbury – were based on Antarctic-related activities.
As always be sceptical of multiplier effects, but even without that it is a very useful contribution. Being a major gateway to Antarctica for other countries is good for us.
Chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand Peter Beggs said about 4000 people heading for Antarctica to work passed through Christchurch each season.
Many of the 3500 internationals stayed on to travel around New Zealand when their stint on the ice ended, and some brought friends and family here to join them.
The report noted future opportunities for Christchurch included the US$300m rebuilding of McMurdo station by the US Antarctic programme, and the Chinese government’s plan to build a research facility in the Ross Sea area.
Scott Base also needed a major upgrade, estimated to cost $150m, to extend its life and support quality research.
Beggs said they had put a business case for Scott Base to Treasury and hoped to get some funding in next year’s budget.
If the Chinese opted to use Christchurch as their base for the building of their research facility, that had huge economic potential because the stocking and refuelling of just one ship could run to $1m, he said.
Would be great to support a Chinese base also.