World cup countdown is on
In fewer than 100 days an estimated 6000 rugby league fans will descend on New Zealand for the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC).
While the event will not be as big as the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup or even the recent Lions Tour, it will still provide an economic boost, with one report estimating international visitor spending could be about $5 million over the five week tournament.
The report, commissioned by Rugby League Word Cup 2017, said domestic visitor spending was likely to add to that forecast figure.
It said the economic contribution would be dependent on play-off games and New Zealand hosting a semi-final against England in Auckland.
The 2017 event, kicking off on October 27, is co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia. Papua New Guinea will also host three pool matches.
New Zealand will host seven of the total 28 games across four venues - Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said he thought the event was more likely to bring in just $3m.
‘‘That seems low but given the spread of the games and the lower level of interest in league it may be correct,’’ Barnett said.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup brought in $700m while the 2015 Cricket World Cup grew New Zealand’s economy by $110 million.
New Zealand Major Events spokeswoman Rebecca Heerdegen said the tournament was an opportunity to bring rugby league and tourism to new communities.
The tournament would see the first ever international test in Hamilton.
‘‘The sectors that tend to benefit the most from major events are in the accommodation and hospitality sectors,’’ Heerdegen said.
Heerdegen said the 2017 event could attract between 1500 to 6000 visitors to New Zealand.
RLWC general manager Andrea Nelson said making the event accessible to all and for it to have a lasting legacy on the country were the top priorities.
‘‘Tickets start from just $45 for a family of four. That’s cheaper than the movies,’’ Nelson said.
The opening match is in Melbourne before New Zealand hosts its first game the next day at Mt Smart Stadium against Samoa.
Shaun Johnson celebrates at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, a tournament that attracted more than 450,000 fans.