Clock ticks down to world cup

Eastern Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - JACK­SON THOMAS

In 72 days an es­ti­mated 6000 fans will be in 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 the re­cent Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons tour, it will still pro­vide an eco­nomic boost, with a re­port es­ti­mat­ing in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor spend­ing could be about $5 mil­lion over the five-week tour­na­ment.

The re­port, com­mis­sioned by Rugby League World Cup 2017, says do­mes­tic vis­i­tor spend­ing was likely to add to that forecast fig­ure. The eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion would be de­pen­dent on play-off games and NZ host­ing a semi-fi­nal against England in Auck­land, it says.

The event, kick­ing off on Oc­to­ber 27, is co-hosted by NZ, Aus­tralia, and Pa­pua New Guinea will also host three pool matches. NZ stages seven of the to­tal 28 games at four venues - Auck­land, Christchurch, Hamil­ton and Welling­ton.

Auck­land Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Bar­nett be­lieves the event is more likely to bring in $3m.

‘‘That seems low but given the spread of the games and the lower level of in­ter­est in league it may be cor­rect,’’ he says.

The 2011 Rugby World Cup brought in $700m, while the 2015 Cricket World Cup grew NZ’s econ­omy by $110m.

NZ Ma­jor Events spokes­woman Re­becca Heerde­gen says the rugby league tour­na­ment is an op­por­tu­nity to bring the game and tourism to new com­mu­ni­ties. And it will see the first in­ter­na­tional test in Hamil­ton.

‘‘The sec­tors that tend to ben­e­fit the most from ma­jor events are in the ac­com­mo­da­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors.

‘‘A com­pre­hen­sive legacy pro­gramme will pro­vide ben­e­fits to the rugby league com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing new train­ing fa­cil­i­ties and fund­ing for grass-roots pro­grammes.’’

Nearly 500,000 fans at­tended the 2013 world cup in England, Wales, France and Ire­land, and watched in more than 100 coun­tries. Heerde­gen says the 2017 event could at­tract be­tween 1500 to 6000 vis­i­tors to New Zealand, de­pend­ing on the out­come of pool games.

RLWC gen­eral man­ager An­drea Nel­son says while the in­flux in tourism is good for lo­cal busi­nesses, mak­ing the event ac­ces­si­ble to all and for it to have a last­ing legacy on the country are the top pri­or­i­ties.

‘‘Tickets start from just $45 for a fam­ily of four.’’

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