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International visitors drawn by Auckland tourism's sport city status

An international award for Auckland as a sports city is likely to have huge pay-offs in attracting tourists.

The 2012 International Sports Event Management awards placed Auckland second in the sports city award, just behind London.

New Zealand's biggest city won the honour primarily for hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Auckland and its tourism arm, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), were announced as a finalist late last month.

Auckland was pitted against Copenhagen, London, Melbourne, Manchester, Glasgow and Düsseldorf in western Germany.

The awards website says the category will be awarded to a city, sports council and/or tourism board which has been successful in organising, hosting and promoting a major sports event.

Entrants must show evidence of:

  • The level of funding, event strategy, legislation, support and commitment.
  • Number, type and importance of events.
  • Infrastructure, transportation, venue facilities.
  • Legacy planning and impact.
  • Local and international interest and attendance.
  • Innovative marketing and promotion.

ATEED’s destination acting general manager, Jennah Wootten, says the award proves Auckland is a true sport city.

 “To say that we’ve placed second behind the city that hosted one of the most successful Olympics ever is absolutely phenomenal. We’ve also beaten the city we consider to be our main competitor in Australasia [Melbourne], which is huge for us, too.”

Global sports and entertainment marketing consultant Gemba has spent the last six years working on large sports and entertainment studies in 10 markets around the world, including New Zealand.

Last year they focused on the Rugby World Cup and how holding the third biggest global sports event would impact this country.

Gemba’s New Zealand general manager Richard Howarth is not at all surprised by the international award given to Auckland and says major sporting events like the cup do wonders for the city.

He told NBR ONLINE the results show Auckland now has a higher profile overseas among those who are passionate about rugby.

“For example, Australian rugby fans are 11% more likely to be able to name Auckland as a New Zealand city versus the average Australian, and are 22% more likely to recall Auckland versus Christchurch, New Zealand’s No 2 ranked city by awareness in Australia.”

Mr Howarth says British rugby fanatics are 12% more likely to be able to name Auckland as a city in New Zealand as a result of the cup.

Following on from the cup, UK rugby fans are now 25% more likely to visit New Zealand, while Australian followers of the game are 29% more likely to travel across the Tasman.

“That’s despite their national team’s woeful recent results in New Zealand.”

He says the award should economically benefit the country, and that this is not just restricted to rugby fans.

“Our data also reinforces Auckland’s transparent objective to host more major sports events like the recent world triathlon grand final, champions trophy hockey and fast5 netball world series.”

He says looking at potential tourists from the UK, those who are passionate about sports such as hockey and netball, are 30% to 40% more likely to be interested in boarding a plane to come here than the average Briton.

Ms Wootten says Auckland Council has hosted some of the world’s largest sporting events in the past year or so, including the Rugby World Cup, the Volvo ocean race, the ITU triathlon world cup, the world rally championship and the world triathlon grand final.

But she is keen to give Auckland something else to enter next year’s awards with, having secured the rights to host the V8 supercars 2013, ironman 70.3, the world softball championships and the world BMX championships.

bcunningham@nbr.co.nz

 

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