Ticket sales for Rugby World Cup 2011 have exceeded expectations and with nine months to go until kick off, New Zealand is already counting on an influx of at least 85,000 international visitors.
Figures released today (16.12.2010) show that ticket sales stand at 864,000 tickets, netting NZ$166 million in ticket revenue alone.
RWC2011 organisers say the major tournament has now become New Zealand's highest-ever grossing event, having exceeded the 2005 Lions tour during with the NZRU grossed NZ$24m from ticket sales.
Sales have reached almost two-thirds of the organisers' overall target of 1.45 million sales across the 48 matches which, according to chief executive Martin Snedden, is "a very good position to be in".
2010 targets achieved
Tournament organisers confirmed that key match ticket sales and revenue targets have been achieved for 2010 and that international visitors will number 85,000 at least.
In addition the organising body Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ 2011) and the event owners Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) have both indicated that they are pleased with overall preparations to date as New Zealanders gear up to deliver the largest event ever hosted in the country.
Snedden says it's a good position to be in with 267 days to go until kick-off.
"We still have a lot left to do, but event preparations, coupled with ticket sales to date and strong international visitorship projections, mean we are getting ourselves in good shape to host the Tournament."
He says the 864,000 figure includes 662,000 sold through RNZ 2011s global public ticket phases, and organisers are on track to achieve the forecast total ticket sales revenue of NZ$268m.
"We knew this NZ$268m sales target was always going to be a big leap into the unknown given that the biggest grossing event previously in New Zealand's history was the 2005 Lions tour.
"We've now achieved seven times that figure. In the end, we'll need to do eleven times that amount to hit budget," said Snedden.
Travel and Hospitality Programme
The Official Travel and Hospitality Programme is also tracking strongly, with sales to date exceeding initial forecasts.
RNZ 2011 has also released the key results of a survey of ticket purchasers carried out by an independent research company.
"The survey results are great news for New Zealand and for our tourism industry. This is reliable evidence that we can expect at least 55,000 international visitors from sales to date in our public ticket programme, in addition to the 30,000 plus visitors who we know will come through packages sold by the Official Travel Agents operating worldwide."
He said attracting visitors was a key part of the benefits of staging a Rugby World Cup.
"It's terrific that 44% of these FIT [free and independent travellers] visitors will be coming to New Zealand for the first time. Furthermore, almost half of those surveyed have indicated an intention to arrive before the opening match on September 9 with the average length of FIT stay being 23 days.
"Many intend travelling right around the country. While the bulk of visitors (36,500) expect at some stage to visit Auckland, at least 11,000 say they will also travel down the West Coast of the South Island and 18,000 to Otago and Southland. Regions up and down New Zealand will benefit," he said.
REAL New Zealand Festival
The survey results also auger well for the REAL New Zealand Festival to be staged during the rugby tournament.
Visitors are being encouraged to take the long way round the country and enjoy an extensive programme of uniquely New Zealand events that will be staged throughout each region.
The REAL New Zealand festival is being promoted as a celebration of "everything that makes New Zealand great" - the best of Kiwi food, wine, culture, heritage, sports and nature - and the reason for visitors to plan much more than rugby time into their itineraries.
Christchurch and Otago stadiums
Rugby World Cup Limited managing director Mike Miller, in New Zealand to check on progress at Stadium Christchurch and the new state-of-the-art Otago Stadium, said he was confident with tournament preparations overall.
"Stadium Christchurch will be an exceptional Rugby World Cup venue and I have no doubt Otago Stadium will not only be ready on time, but will quickly establish itself as one of the finest sporting venues in the world with its innovative design and exceptional spectator experience.
"What I am seeing, having made several visits to New Zealand in the past year, is a country that is advanced in its preparations to host a fantastic Rugby World Cup. This Tournament is all about partnership and I am delighted to say that all stakeholders, including the New Zealand Government are geared towards hosting a Tournament that New Zealanders and the global Rugby family can be proud of.
"We have every confidence that New Zealand will stage a very successful Tournament and one that will provide fans from around the world a truly memorable experience combining compelling action in great stadia with a wonderful festival of sport and culture as New Zealand becomes a nation of four million hosts."
Ticket sales show that most visitors will come from Australia, the United Kingdom including Ireland, France, South Africa, USA and Canada.
Almost 50% of visitors will arrive before the opening match, and research shows their average length of stay in New Zealand will be 23 days. A total of 44% will be visiting New Zealand for the first time.
Furthermore 57% of the international ticket purchasers and 45% of domestic buyers expect to buy more tickets.
Of the 54,896 people who currently reside overseas and will be visiting New Zealand for RWC 2011, 3,966 won't be attending matches.
Figures released to date also show visitors will travel extensively throughout New Zealand: 36,500 will visit Auckland, 29,500 will go to Wellington, 25,000 to Christchurch - Canterbury,and 23,000 to Hamilton Waikato.
Updated on 23rd July 2015