Cash­ing in on Lions

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

More tourist dol­lars are flow­ing into the re­gion, with Lions rugby sup­port­ers pro­vid­ing a wel­come boon.

The lat­est monthly es­ti­mates for Manawatu-Whanganui from the Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment show that tourists spent about $951 mil­lion for the year to June 2017.

That’s up 7 per cent com­pared with the year to June 2016.

The min­istry’s Mark Gor­don said in­ter­na­tional tourists to the re­gion spent $172 mil­lion – up 9 per cent com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

Do­mes­tic tourists spent $779 mil­lion – a 6 per cent in­crease over the same pe­riod. For June 2017, the month of the Lions tour, the re­gion’s tourist spend was up 6 per cent on June 2016.

How­ever, the Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil’s eco­nomic pol­icy ad­vi­sor Peter Craw­ford said in­ter­pret­ing the lo­cal au­thor­ity data from the min­istry pre­sented some chal­lenges, as it was only pub­lished on a rolling 12-month ba­sis.

‘‘We do not see the data for the in­di­vid­ual months,’’ Craw­ford said.

‘‘That means we have to in­fer the im­pact of the Lions tour by com­par­ing the to­tal for the 12 months ended May and the to­tal for the 12 months ended June.’’

Craw­ford said the data sug­gests spend­ing from TUK vis­i­tors in­creased by $300,000 in Palmer­ston North dur­ing June 2017, com­pared with June 2016.

A break­down of the data shows Palmer­ston North’s food and bev­er­age sec­tor ex­pe­ri­enced a $900,000 in­crease in turnover be­tween May and June, while other re­tail spend­ing dropped by $600,000.

‘‘In­ter­est­ingly, the data shows an in­crease of $500,000 in the month from vis­i­tors from the USA,’’ Craw­ford said.

Mar­ian McMur­ray, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Manawatu Mo­tel As­so­ci­a­tion, said a straw poll among ac­com­mo­da­tion providers came to the con­clu­sion that cafes and the New Zealand Rugby Museum were the chief lo­cal ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Lions tour, while lo­cal mote­liers missed out.

‘‘There were plenty of camper­vans and lots of red jer­seys, but we didn’t see much of it,’’ McMur­ray said.

Cen­tral Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Agency chief ex­ec­u­tive Linda Ste­wart said feed­back she re­ceived about lo­cal ef­forts to make Lions sup­port­ers visit and stay in the re­gion was largely pos­i­tive.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/STUFF

Lions sup­porter Maria Teresa Perry checks out a display at the New Zealand Rugby Museum.

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