Rugby Still a Winner for Wellington's Economy

9 September 2010

Rugby was definitely the winner on the day - 17 July - for Wellington City's economy.

That's the word from an economic impact report by McDermott Miller that says the total new spend in Wellington City as a result of the recent All Blacks versus Springboks Tri-Nations rugby test was $9.3 million.

Wellington City Council's Director of Rugby World Cup 2011 and City Events, Derek Fry, says the report builds a detailed picture of the benefits of key sporting events.

"It's great to see how valuable the recent test match was in terms of attracting visitors and new spend to the city. However, these reports also provide us with the opportunity to further understand who comes to these events, why, how they got here, what else they did in the city and what they thought about their experience."

Many of the insights provided by the report will be applied to planning for other major events in Wellington, including Rugby World Cup 2011, and a near-identical match as part of next year's Tri-Nations series.

McDermott Miller's research shows that high-spenders at sports events are very similar to high-spenders at cultural events, in that the overall experience is of key importance.

While 34,590 tickets were sold for the test match, the report found that roughly another 1,200 people came to Wellington because of it but didn't attend the game.

"We know significant numbers of people are just coming for the atmosphere - that's really encouraging for us," says Derek Fry.

The majority of match spectators (52%) came from outside the Wellington region - 7% from overseas. Only 25% of spectators came from Wellington City. At the last All Blacks - Springboks test match to be the subject of a McDermott Miller report, in 1998 (played at Athletic Park), 39% came from outside the Wellington region, 1% from overseas, and 37% came from Wellington city.

Most of the international spectators were tourists who took the opportunity to see the All Blacks in a world-class venue.

Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks says the impact of the test had been reflected in commercial accommodation figures.

"Our hotel monitor shows rooms, rate and occupancy were all up for July, whereas May and June were pretty quiet months for Wellington. This shows the impact that major events have on the city's economy and the importance of continuing to secure this market advantage for Wellington." 

The $9.3m figure compares favourably with the new spend generated by the NZI Sevens ($15.6 million, according to a 2008 report).

The total spending by all spectators, organisers and corporates for the test was divided into categories, with restaurants accounting for 41%, accommodation 26% and shopping 14%.

Other findings include:

  • 62% attended the test primarily because they follow rugby, while a further 14% attended for the party.
  •  The test was the main reason for the visiting fans' trips to Wellington (79% gave it as their primary reason).
  • 97% of all spectators rated their experience with the test 'very good' or 'good', and 99% of New Zealand visitors rated their trip to Wellington city as 'very good' or 'good'.
  • Unsurprisingly, what happened on the field had a bearing on many fans' experience - the most common response (30%) to what they liked most about the test was the All Blacks winning.
  • The majority of respondents (57%) felt there was nothing Wellington city could do to make a major event more enjoyable.
  • The spectator snapshot at the test match showed someone who was:
    - on average 45 years old
    - male (at 62%)
    - likely to attend an average of 7.3 professional rugby matches per season / year
    - there with family.