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Millions learn about NZ through Giant Rugby Ball

29 October 2009
For immediate release

Millions learn about New Zealand through Giant Rugby Ball promotion.

New Zealand is getting huge interest from Japanese people a day after New Zealand’s giant rugby ball was opened in Tokyo.

The opening of the rugby ball under the high profile Tokyo Tower site was covered by over 100 journalists from Japan’s eleven national television stations, eleven national newspapers and more than forty websites.

The television coverage has been viewed by an audience estimated to be well over 34 million, while the newspapers have a total readership of 30 million.

The opening was the lead story on Yahoo’s Japanese site which is the most viewed website in Japan with hundreds of millions of hits every day.

The coverage caused a spike in Tourism New Zealand’s website for Japan, doubling the number of users from 1500 to 3000 today. Hundreds of locals queued to see the spectacular audio visual display inside the ball to learn more about New Zealand.

National Television channel, Nippon TV will broadcast the weather live from the Giant Rugby Ball this evening.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said the interest in the ball has been phenomenal.
“The purpose of this seven day project is to promote New Zealand now and for the Rugby World Cup. Within one day that promotion has been more than we could have expected and we still have a week to go.”

The ball was formally opened yesterday by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key. It will be open until 3 November.

The opening united Japanese and New Zealand cultures, with a formal Māori mihi whakatau, or welcome, which Shinto Priests responded to with their own formal blessing.

During the seven days the Ball is open, it will play host to a series of public and private events aimed at promoting New Zealand as a place to visit, work and do business with. It will also host functions which will showcase New Zealand cuisine.

Interview with TNZ CE George Hickton at the Rugby Ball /

Background Facts

Results Prior to Tokyo
Paris, France in 2007

* During the 15 days the Ball was open to the public in Paris next to the Eiffel Tower, the Ball achieved a potential world-wide media reach of over 137 million people. 25,000 went through the Ball and saw the show.
London, England in 2008

* During the 8 days the Ball stood in Potters Fields Park next to London Bridge, 7,500 people went inside the Ball and experienced the AV display.

* Over 200 million people from around the world had the opportunity to see the Ball on screens and in newspapers and magazines.
Giant Rugby Ball Facts

* The Rugby Ball itself is a temporary inflatable venue that measures 25 metres long, 17 metres wide (at its widest point) and 13 metres high and can hold up to 220 people.

* It is estimated that 600,000 normal rugby balls would fit into the Giant Rugby ball.

* A key feature of the Ball is a 10-minute audiovisual show that transforms the interior of the Ball into a variety of New Zealand environments from the depths of the ocean, beaches, volcanoes and bush walks, to rugby games.

* The air system works by two air pumps expelling 8,000 litres per second

* The Ball is a temporary venue open to the public free of charge that will use the latest in audio-visual technology to take visitors on a journey through New Zealand. This virtual voyage will showcase the country’s tourist offering - incredible natural history and rich cultural heritage to contemporary New Zealand culture.

* A revolving door allows the movement of people in and out of the Ball while maintaining the interior air pressure.

Japanese Tourism Statistics

* Japan is New Zealand’s fifth largest market for visitor arrivals.

* In the year to September 2009, New Zealand welcomed 80,000 Japanese visitors.

* It is also one of the highest spending markets, with total expenditure of over $422 million in the year to June 2009.

* On a per-person basis, Japanese are our highest spending visitors with average holiday spending at $4,698 per trip, compared with Australia at ($2,372), the USA ($3,552) and the UK ($4,006).

* Arrivals from Japan have been declining since 2004, as a result of the weaker Japanese economy and exchange rate, because of a change in travel habits (younger Japanese travellers tend to spend money on other things, like clothes and electronic goods) and because of an increase in cheaper short-haul travel within Asia.


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