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AUT measures Ironman impact

AUT measures Ironman impact

International sporting eyes will be on Taupo this Saturday when Ironman hits town – and an AUT University research centre will be there to measure its impact on the tourist mecca.

The weekend long 2006 Ironman New Zealand triathlon will attract 1490 competitors from about 40 countries. Destination Lake Taupo has commissioned AUT’s New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI) to evaluate how the participants and their supporters spend their money in the region.

An online survey – http://www.trace.org.nz/ – will cover accommodation, travel, spending and visitor satisfaction, from petrol, groceries to local tourism and night life.

A separate survey for businesses on the same website will assess how local enterprises were affected in terms of planning, extended opening hours and event weekend turnover.

Ironman New Zealand, the world’s oldest international Ironman, is one of 18 official qualifying events around the globe for the annual Ironman World Championships in Hawai’i.

Events like Ironman New Zealand are a significant part of the Taupo economy, says Dr Geoff Dickson, AUT University’s head of research for sport and recreation and NZTRI researcher.

“We know the triathletes leave sweat behind in Taupo, what we want to determine is the money they leave behind. The economic impact analysis will quantify how much money is injected into the local economy and where.

“It's a bit like saying we know Cameron Brown is fast, but we only know how fast when we take out the stopwatch.”

Alongside the economic study NZTRI will run a social impact study of Taupo residents – of whom 2000 volunteer to assist in the annual event.

“We’ll assess both positive and negative impacts. If we understand both, then event organisers can capitalise on the positives and reduce the negatives,” says Dr Dickson.

Participants of all three surveys go in the draw to win prizes, including a greenstone pendant, $100 cash, a Huka Jet ride or a Taupo Bungy jump for two.

The research is part of a broader campaign on the impact high profile events such as Ironman have on regional New Zealand.

Destination Lake Taupo event marketing manager Warwick Hall says the Taupo region is a leader in New Zealand’s event industry.

“These events play a huge role in our annual economy,” he says. “We are a small region boxing well above our weight in this area of tourism.”

NZTRI research assistant Tina Buch created the social study for residents as part of her Master of Business degree at AUT University. She said the survey is unique in event evaluation.

“Taupo residents get to say in real terms how it affects them – travel, parking, shopping and volunteering in the event.”

NZTRI is based at AUT University. It brings together experts in tourism and hospitality and its goal is to develop timely and innovative research solutions for the tourism industry and those who depend on it.

Survey participant prizes:

Ironman competitor survey – a greenstone pendant or a Huka Jet ride for two or a Taupo Bungy jump for two

Taupo business survey – a Huka Jet ride for two or a Taupo Bungy jump for two

Taupo resident survey – $100 cash

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