Strong NZ dollar no deterrent to world’s rugby fans: Snedden
by Paul McBeth
Aug. 9 (BusinessDesk) – The strong kiwi dollar hasn’t deterred foreigners from buying tickets to Rugby World Cup matches this year, and the New Zealand Rugby Union is now picking some 95,000 people will come for the tournament.
RWC 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden told a media briefing in Wellington the tournament now expects 10,000 more visitors that in its last forecast, as international sales track well.
The event organiser is expecting more than 30,000 visitors from across the Tasman, about 25,000 from the British Isles, 10,000 French and about 10,000 from across the U.S., Canada and Argentina.
“In the last 10 weeks we’ve managed to sell $64 million worth of tickets, we’ve got 10 weeks of solid selling still in front of us,” said Snedden, leaving the tournament just $34 million shy of its target $268 million in ticket sales.
The tournament forecasts a bottom-line loss of some $39 million, so sales above target could whittle that loss down. Sales so far equate to roughly 1.3 million to 1.35 million tickets of the approximate 1.55 million tickets available.
The surging New Zealand dollar has not slowed sales, despite hitting almost hit 90 U.S. cents, a three decade high, last week.
It has since tumbled to recently trade at 81.72 cents and 71.04 on a trade-weighted basis.
The kiwi dollar has also been relatively weak against the Australian dollar, making travel here more attractive for Australians, who tournament marketers are targeting to bolster numbers.
“Our currency in respect of the Australian dollar is pretty attractive, and maybe that reflects the fact that our Australian sales have been as good as they have been to date, and also something that adds into our confidence that there’s something left in the Australian market,” Snedden said.
Snedden ruled out discounting tickets to fill the matches closer to game-day, saying it would be unfair on those people who got in early and paid full price for their tickets.
RWC Minister Murary McCully said Australian is “the market with some upside for us” and that he and Snedden are working to attract more people across the ditch for the tournament.
The Reserve Bank estimates the event will inject $700 million into the local economy.