Interest in New Zealand continues to surge, as sports fans search for the best travel deals ahead of the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off tomorrow.
The tournament – the world’s third biggest sporting event (after the football World Cup and the Olympics) - commences in Auckland.
Sporting fans descend upon New Zealand
95, 000 international visitors are expected descend upon the country for the games, according to Tourism New Zealand. Ticket sales are on target with 1.08 million tickets, worth $234 million, sold ahead of the September 9 tournament kick-off.
“After more than four years promoting New Zealand as home of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, it’s great news that so many international rugby fans intend to come to New Zealand for the six-week Tournament,” says Chief Executive, Kevin Bowler.
“As well as welcoming the visiting fans, the eyes of the world will be on New Zealand as host of Rugby World Cup 2011, providing an unprecedented opportunity to raise our profile on the global stage as a fantastic visitor destination.”
Australians were expected to make up 30,000 of those fans, 10,000 from France, 25,000 from the United Kingdom and Ireland and 10,000 US, Canada and Argentina supporters. International visitors were expected to account for one third of total ticket sales.
Tourism creates job opportunities
Tourism already plays a significant role in the New Zealand economy and creates many job opportunities.
In 2010, tourism expenditure was $22.4 billion, an increase of 2.1 per cent from the previous year.
International tourism increased by 1.6 per cent to $9.5 billion and contributed 18.2 per cent to NZ’s total exports of goods and services.
TripAdvisor has revealed that searches for New Zealand by British travellers on TripAdvisor.co.uk have increased 18% year-on-year (when comparing July and August 2010 against the same months in 2011).
“The Rugby World Cup kicks off on 9th September and many Brits are now planning their trips and what to do when they’re there,” commented Emma O’Boyle,
TripAdvisor spokesperson. “It’s a dream destination for many tourists, so it’s no surprise to see increased interest from British travellers, who are likely looking to combine a once-in-a-lifetime trip with their sport of choice”.
England rugby team prepare for opening game
England’s rugby team arrived in New Zealand last week, with Martin Johnson announcing that the tournament had been “a long time coming”.
Their first game against Argentina in Group B takes place on 10 September. They spent a few days in Auckland before travelling south to their base in Dunedin.
International rugby supporters have been arriving in New Zealand this week in preparation for the eight matches that are set to take place over the weekend.
Opening celebrations at Auckland’s spectacular harbour
The opening celebrations are due to kick off on Auckland’s spectacular harbour waterfront on September 9th, before moving into Eden Park, for the Opening Ceremony at 7.30pm (NZT), which will be followed by the start of the Rugby action with New Zealand playing Pacific neighbour Tonga in the Tournament’s opening match.
Meanwhile rugby fans in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup 2011 can expect to experience the Real New Zealand - as well as the world’s third biggest sporting event.
The Real New Zealand Festival - a nationwide series of events showcasing the best of Kiwi food, wine, culture, heritage, sports and nature - was unveiled in Auckland at Eden Park, New Zealand’s biggest sporting ground.
The festival’s official launch marked celebrations for ‘One Year to Go’ until the RWC 2011.
New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully explained that the festival aims to touches every visitor and every Kiwi.
“We want our guests to have a truly authentic experience of our country and our people”
“And the colour of the Tournament won’t just be apparent in stadia on match days but also throughout the many towns and cities all over the country that are now ready to play their part in the REAL New Zealand Festival.”
The festival will incorporate authentic Kiwi experiences for visitors. Briony Ellis, festival director explains: “We’ve called it ‘Real’ because the real New Zealand is on showcase. The programme for the festival celebrates the aspects of living in New Zealand that Kiwis are most proud of - authentic experiences and events that showcase our people, landscapes, culture and stories.”
“There’ll be plenty of time between games so we want to encourage people to take the long way round from one match to the next and really see the country and meet the people,” she said.
Each town and city in New Zealand will showcase regional highlights - ranging from art and rugby exhibitions to food and wine tastings and craft fairs, concerts and Māori culture.
New Zealand dollar soars in relation to the British Pound
But according to research by Travelex, the local currency, the New Zealand dollar, has soared in relation to the British pound recently.
The value of the pound against the dollar has fallen by 11 per cent in the last year – and is down 33 per cent compared to its value five years ago – which will result in a more expensive trip for rugby supporters who have made the journey to New Zealand.
Rugby World Cup Mobile App unveiled
Meanwhile the Official Rugby World Cup 2011 Mobile App was unveiled last month to enable fans and media to keep up to date with the latest action and developments during the tournaments.
The App, which is free for Blackberry, PlayBook, iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7, can be downloaded from http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/mobileapp
Available in English, French and Spanish, it enables users to follow all 48 matches on their device with live match text commentary and score updates, half time and full time video highlights, Tournament news, statistics and more.
RWCL Tournament Web Manager Dominic Kelly said: “Rugby World Cup 2011 will be the first truly ‘social’ Tournament. We have a facebook page with over 1.1 million likes, a dedicated Twitter page, You Tube channel and now an official App to ensure that fans attending the Tournament or following from their homes will be able to interact with Rugby World Cup 2011.”
Research carried out in 2010 indicated visitors expected to stay an average 23 days and travel throughout New Zealand - 38,000 of them for the first time.
Total ticket sales are already 10 times higher than the 2005 British and Irish Lions tours; the previous largest event held in New Zealand.
Also in New Zealand today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Auckland.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
auckland.mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.