Sports tourism set to inject more than $210m in 2017

All Black Ali Williams collects the ball during the last Lions tour in 2005. Credit: NZ Rugby

Six major sports tourism events are set to pump more than $210m into the New Zealand economy in 2017.

The Lions Tour, which attracts 20,000 excitable fans from overseas for lengthy visits, is forecast to be the leading GDP contributor at around $135m, followed by $53m from the World Masters Games 2017.

As home to the Downer NRL Auckland Nines and the ASB Classic as well as the busiest host city of the one-off events, Auckland’s share of GDP comes in at around $80m.

With two annual events comprising the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open and the Audi Quattro Winter Games anchored in the southern lakes region it will make a strong GDP contribution of $12.3m.

The Lions Tour and WMG also provide a significant boost to forecast visitor numbers which are set to come in at more than 195,000 across all six events in 2017.

This, it is predicted, will generate in excess of 810,000 visitor nights nationwide.

ASB Classic

ASB Classic, Auckland. Credit: BMW

NZ’s annual flagship tennis competition has been steadily extending its offer to attract a broader audience.   

Tournament director Karl Budge is clear about his goal to make it “New Zealand’s best annual event. While tennis will always be at our core, our main focus, we wanted it to be a celebration of all things great about the New Zealand summer.”

This year is the 21st year of sponsorship from ASB, which is on record as being “committed to sponsoring it in the long-term”.

When: January 2-7 (women), January 9-14 (men)

Where: ASB Tennis Arena, Auckland

How many: Visitor numbers at last year’s event clocked in at more than 64,000, up 10% to the record number. Tournament director Karl Budge predicted at least a 10% increase for 2017.

How much: Budge forecasts “seven figure returns” in 2017. The last set of figures from Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development reported the 2015 event generated $1.9m for Auckland regional GDP, with more than 49,000 attendees and 14,000 visitor nights.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development’s 2016 sponsorship investment, on behalf of Auckland Council, was $175,000.

The 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines

Quarter-finals, Downer NRL Auckland Nines at Mt Smart Stadium, 2016. Credit:

The new kid on the block, this annual rugby league nines competition was first held by the National Rugby League at Auckland’s Eden Park in 2014. The two-day short-form pre-season event has quickly become a favourite summer fixture with fans and typically attracts around 5,000 international visitors. That is more this year’s Rugby League World cup is expected to get given that the tournament is shared with Australia who host most of the head-line matches.

When: February 4 and 5, Waitangi Weekend

Where: Auckland’s Eden Park.

How many: Last year’s tournament reported an attendance of 37,000 and sales are currently tracking to at least match that number. Over its three year history, it has generated more than 175,000 visitor nights for Auckland, a total in stadia audience of 247,840 people, and a television audience of 1.4m.

How much: According to ATEED the event has exceeded its economic targets every year, generating more than $23m for the Auckland regional economy in its first three years. This is more than 80% of its five-year target. ATEED investment over five years (2014-2018), on behalf of Auckland Council, is sponsorship totalling $9m and leverage investment of $3m.

Leading Australasian engineering and infrastructure group Downer has been secured as Downer NRL Auckland Nines naming rights sponsor for 2017 and 2018.

2017 ISPS Handa New Zealand Open

ISPS Handa NZ Open 2016. Credit: NZ Open

Tourism New Zealand has classified golf as a Special Interest sector with marketing tailored to inspire high value visitors to our shores.

A November 2016 progress report on the 2014 strategy confirms it is working, with golf visitors up a record 23% alongside an 18% increase in spend by these visitors for the year ending April 2016. It put the total annual value of inbound golf tourism at $329m as of August 2016.

On average, golf tourists spend 30% more on their visit, $5,450 compared with $4,100 for the full year to June, and where better to do that than Queenstown.

The annual event’s reach has not been lost on top local tourism operators Coronet Peak, Real Journeys, Eichardt’s Hotel and Shotover Jet which have collectively partnered as a new entity called the Queenstown Group to become a major sponsor for this year.

In September ISPS Handa was confirmed as the new naming rights sponsor for the tournament for a minimum three-year term, covering the 2017, 2018 and 2019 events.

When: March 9th – 12th

Where: The Hills and Millbrook Resort, Queenstown

How many: Organisers are aiming to attract crowds of 18,000 to the course each day, up from 16,000 last year. Official broadcast viewing numbers are also expected to rise, with a 10% lift on last year’s 25.8m households that received live coverage and 22.4m households that received nightly highlights internationally.

How much: Revenue comes in at $4.5m with commercial sponsorship making up approximately $2m. In 2016 the national economic benefit was put at $9m including some $6.6m which was spent in the Queenstown region during the event.

World Masters Games 2017

Credit: World Masters Games

The World Masters Games 2017 will be the largest event New Zealand has hosted after the Rugby World Cup with around half of the 25,000 competitors coming from overseas. Competitors and supporters will attend matches in competing in 28 sporting disciplines, in more than 45 competition venues across the Auckland and Waikato regions.

A stellar team of organisers – many graduating from the RWC campaign – is working on what is the world’s largest multi-sport event at the ATEED-owned company. It will next take place in Kansai in Japan in 2021.

When: April 21-30 

Where: More than 45 competition venues across the Auckland and Waikato regions.

How many: More than 25,000 competitors and 10,000 spectators

How much: 35,000 attendees ticking up 250,810 visitor nights in Auckland are forecast to generate a $45.2m cash-flow to the city, and a GDP impact of about $36m. This rises to $53m GDP and 266,000 visitor nights to the wider New Zealand economy.

The Government ($11m) and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development on behalf of Auckland Council ($11.8m) have invested approximately two thirds of the $35.9m required to stage the event with the remainder to come from registration fees ($8.5m) and commercial sponsorship ($4.6m).

The Lions Tour

Fans enjoy the Lions’ tour of 2005. Credit: NZ Rugby

A Lions tour to NZ only happens every 12 years and is a highlight on the global rugby calendar as well as a firm favourite with Kiwis.  The series spans nearly six weeks, taking in seven regions from Whangarei to Dunedin.

When: June 3 – July 8

Where: Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

How many: A total of 34,500 visitors is estimated to included 20,500 supporters travelling from overseas to New Zealand for the six week tournament starting in June 2017. Some 15,000 of these fans are penciled in to come from the UK. In Auckland alone the 2017 tour is forecast to generate 165,210 visitor nights, generated by combined 20,500 international visitors and 14,000 domestic visitors. National visitor nights were reported to be 430,000 in 2005.

How much: According to a report on the 2005 tour by independent consultant, Covec, around 20,000 international fans ploughed more than $123m into the economy. In Auckland, Covec said, it was worth more than that of the combined America’s Cup defences in 2000 and 2003.

The event contributed a total of $135m to the national economy including $12m from New Zealand fans.

2017 Audi Quattro Winter Games

Winter Olympic, Paralympic and X Games stars are heading to New Zealand’s Southern Alps once again for the fifth biennial Audi quattro Winter Games NZ. The Games are one of the world’s top five winter sports competitions and the only one in the southern hemisphere. They are also New Zealand’s largest recurring sports event.

When: August 25 – September 10

Where: Cardrona Alpine Resort, Snow Farm, Treble Cone, Wanaka; Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Queenstown; Maniototo Curling International, Naseby.

How many: Key statistics for the 2015 Games include the participation of 690 athletes. This is forecast to rise for the 2017 event coming just six months before the Winter Olympics in Korea. According to the 2015 Games report there were some 20,791 international bed nights and 18,536 domestic visitor nights, equalling the delivery of an additional 39,327 bed nights to Central Otago.

How much: The 2015 report put revenue at $4.7m collected via sponsorship, patrons, grants and sales leading to a profit of $9,300.

The report added that the games generated a net national benefit of $3.3m, and identified the additional economic benefit for New Zealand of $727,433 from international sponsorship, grants and sales.

Winter Games NZ’s investment into snow sport over the four previous games totals $2.7m.

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