Tournament organisers for the seventh Rugby World Cup are forecasting that on the basis of offshore ticket sales to date New Zealand can expect 95,000 international visitors to arrive during the Tournament which kicks off in exactly one month on Friday, September 9.
Previous estimates released last year had put the expected number of visitors at 85,000.
“This is tremendous news and a real sign of just how big Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) will be for our country,” said RNZ 2011 CEO Martin Snedden.
“The upsurge in support from overseas fans is a strong sign of confidence in our ability to host the biggest sporting event New Zealand has ever held.
“It also underlines what we have always said; that this Tournament brings multiple economic benefits to our country as well as providing a priceless opportunity to show the best of New Zealand to the world.”
Offshore ticket purchasers
The latest analysis of RNZ 2011 ticket sales data shows visitors are coming from more than 100 countries during the six week Tournament.
More than 30,000 fans are expected from across the Tasman while expected visitor numbers have also been strong from traditional rugby markets such as the UK, France and Ireland.
“We are expecting around 25,000 fans from the UK & Ireland and another 10,000 from France,” said Mr Snedden.
“It’s also terrific to see good numbers coming from the Americas, and that USA, Canada and Argentina will be well supported. Our estimates suggest 10,000 from these countries.”
Previous analysis suggested visitors on average will stay 23 days, travel extensively around New Zealand and 44% will be first-time visitors.
Ticket sales momentum builds
RNZ 2011 also reported that ticket sales had climbed to 1.08 million, putting the Tournament well on track to achieve its sales targets. Revenue to date totals NZ$234 million, against a target of NZ$268.5m.
“This also means we have achieved nearly 10 times the revenue of the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour, the previous largest ticketing programme in this country,” said Mr Snedden.
“Fans have snapped up more than 180,000 tickets since the final ticketing phase launched on July 4. That’s equivalent to three sold out Eden Parks so that is an outstanding result.
“Over the last 10 weeks or so, since the 100 days to go milestone, nearly 300,000 tickets, worth NZ$65m, have been sold.
“As at previous Rugby World Cups in France and Australia, sales will rise during the build-up to the Tournament as the event becomes that much more tangible for fans. At the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 20% of sales were made in the month of the Games.
“We are seeing a lift in sales each week and the success of the Bledisloe match at Eden Park on Saturday is already adding to momentum. We have sold a million dollars worth of tickets since then.
“Our challenge over the remaining ten weeks is to generate another NZ$34m of revenues, the equivalent of about another 230,000 ticket sales. Given what we have sold over the last 10 weeks, this is clearly achievable.
“The first teams arrive in just a few weeks, 10,000 street banners will shortly go up around the country, and that will all help to continue building interest and excitement.
“Our message to fans is, get in now as many matches will sell out. Time is really running out. While tickets are available to most matches, there is limited availability in many categories.”
Tickets are available at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets and Ticketek outlets around New Zealand.
Strong interest in RWC 2011
RNZ 2011’s own polling also confirms the growing interest in RWC 2011.
“There have been suggestions recently that Kiwis were not that interested in RWC 2011, but our research tells us otherwise,” said Mr Snedden.
“Nationally, 88% of New Zealanders say they are interested to some degree in RWC 2011 and despite all of the challenges and disappointments for the people of Christchurch this year, they remain one of the most interested of the regions with 42% of those polled in Christchurch saying they are very interested in the Tournament.
“More than two thirds of New Zealanders are also looking forward to RWC 2011 more than any other event in the next two to three years.”
The Colmar Brunton poll of 750 people was carried out in June 2011. For more information, see Appendix 1.
Praise for Eden Park “Test” and Otago Stadium
Mr Snedden also reaffirmed his praise for Eden Park and the operations around Saturday night’s successful Bledisloe Cup Test match and RWC 2011 trial run.
“From our perspective, Saturday night could barely have gone better.
“We were able to test much of the RWC 2011 planning and protocols and new stadia facilities in a live match environment with a large crowd. We identified some fine tuning we will need to do as expected, but by and large the venue and plans passed the test with flying colours and the fans appear to have endorsed that view.
“Rugby New Zealand 2011 is very grateful to the New Zealand Rugby Union, Eden Park, Auckland Council and the Government and all of our partners who made this event a success on and off the field.
“The new Otago Stadium is also in great shape, with the first matches having just been played. We think this magnificent arena will be a real hit with fans, offering a unique RWC 2011 experience.”
Stage set says IRB
IRB and Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) Chairman Bernard Lapasset said the stage was now set for New Zealand to shine.
“With a month to go we are confident that RWC 2011 will be a resounding success and a Tournament that New Zealanders and the global Rugby family will be proud of.
“The stadia are ready, the supporting infrastructure is ready, the Team 2011 Volunteers are ready, ticket sales are on track and hosting will deliver long lasting benefits for New Zealand and New Zealand Rugby.
“The anticipation is palpable and as we count down to the opening match at Eden Park on September 9, I have no doubt that fans attending RWC 2011 will have an exceptional experience.”