Christchurch will need to find a way to get tourists back in town to rebuild its economy fully, tourism officials say.
The Tourism Industry Association (TIA) says tourism was worth $2.3 billion a year to the Canterbury economy before the February 2011 earthquake but since then it's fallen by $350 million, or about 15 per cent.
Total Christchurch "guest nights", which were more than 13 million before the quake, are down by a million, or about 7.7 per cent.
The flow-on effect has been felt by the rest of the South Island, which lost nearly a million international guest nights in 2011.
Christchurch's Central City Blueprint is being released next month and TIA chief executive Martin Snedden says the blueprint needs to consider how to bring back the visitors.
He says a central city entertainment zone to complement the Restart Mall is vital.
"The mall has been highly successful at providing a central city focus but offering both international and domestic visitors a temporary restaurant and entertainment zone would give them a reason to stay in Christchurch and spend more while they are there," he said.
Mr Snedden also said lack of accommodation was a problem, particularly in the hotel and backpacker sectors, and efforts needed to be made to help accommodation be built as quickly as possible with a minimum of red tape.
Tourism leaders also want certainty on the location and the timeline for rebuilding the Christchurch Convention Centre to help accommodation providers and conference planners, and increased support for Christchurch Airport, the main gateway for South Island visitors.
TIA's board of directors meets in Christchurch on Thursday and will host Canterbury TIA members at an industry function.