Doubts About New Zealand’s Ability To Host Rugby World Cup

A New Zealand based travel industry magazine, Traveltrade  has questioned New Zealand’s ability to host the Rugby World Cup and has hit out at the high prices tourists have to pay for accommodation, rental cars and flights during the event.

The mag’s editor, Gordon Gillan, used an example of his brother and his friends being quoted $21,000 by travel agents for 23 nights at the tournament. Saying, even though they could afford to pay the charges, they felt ripped-off and wanted to make their own arrangements.

Sounds like there may be some gazumping going on here. “Testing resources” or just being made to pay more?

“However, when the group tried to do so they had multiple problems which included

Gillan’s brother had secured and paid for accommodation, but was later told that it was overbooked.

And while trying to organize a rental car, he was informed it had to be picked up from Christchurch before 5pm – even though his flight did not arrive until 7pm.

“I think basically it’s hard work. It’s obviously testing resources … It’s a lot harder than the normal booking period,” said Gillan.

A flight from Auckland to Wellington in March cost Gillan $99. The same trip for two to see Scotland play a RWC game in September was going to set him back $908. source

Whilst New Zealand is good at telling people how good it is it falls short when it comes to delivering on that promise

He felt that while there was a lot of talk about ensuring visitors had a good experience in New Zealand, the people trying to book accommodation, flights and rental cars for the RWC were not getting a positive impression of New Zealand.

“People are paying top dollar for accommodation and flights to secure tickets … the delivery is going to have to be outstanding if people are paying these sorts of prices.”

He also said there was little accommodation available for people who had bought match tickets but were travelling independently…” read more here

Of course the problem has been compounded by the Christchurch earthquakes (the city is still suffering from large afterschocks) and the relocation of the city’s games to other parts of New Zealand.

Even New Zealanders are finding it hard to get to the matches, many South Islanders simply can’t afford the travel and accommodation costs at this late stage. Unfortunately for them the government reneged on their promise in March to provide special travel packages to support to Cantabrians wanting to attend relocated fixtures. All the fans got was their ticket money back.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully said earlier this month

there will be no further planning because the commercial travel market still has good value fares to meet demand for travel from Christchurch.”

An almost thousand dollar price tag on a $99 ticket is supposed to be “good value”? Only in New Zealand perhaps.

Is it any wonder that only half of the available tickets have been sold. 919,000 tickets had been sold before the quake, that number dropped to 790,000 after the cancellation of ticket sales for the seven relocated matches. There are a total of 1.65 million tickets still available.

New Zealand has been concentrating for so long on the much hyped fiscal rewards of hosting the RWC that it has lost sight of its obligation to provide a good value for money experience for the games’ fans. Time to get real, stop trying to rake in the bucks. Get a grip on reality and give the fans the value for money they deserve.

Because if New Zealand doesn’t who can blame them if they vote with their wallets, stay home, avoid the NZ winter (why bother getting cold and wet at *party central) and watch it all on television. Local and international supporters alike.

*Party Central

Auckland’s so called Party Central will be an uncovered, open area on the harbourside. A structure called The Cloud will be built but this will be little more than a trade exhibit selling New Zealand to invited guests and visiting VIPs.

The $9.8 million structure will host trade displays for New Zealand industries. Revellers will be left to follow games on big screens outside and brave the cold and often inclement weather,  or take refuge in the local bars and clubs. At a price, of course.  “Party central” could easily turn into “expensive, damp squib.”

VIP and media functions will also be held on the Cloud’s mezzanine floor, which is already booked for delegates to the Pacific Island Leaders Forum the week before the Cup tournament.

Tourism New Zealand will also open a site to point visitors towards local attractions and other tourism opportunities throughout the country.

Alex Swney, head of the Heart of the City business promotion group in Auckland, said New Zealand had to take the opportunity to promote itself, as well as entertain visitors…” more

But what about looking after the fans. Is this an international sporting event, or a trade show for New Zealand?

Also in today’s NZ News

Business owners expect little from rugby world cup

Read our other RWC 2011 blogs here

4 thoughts on “Doubts About New Zealand’s Ability To Host Rugby World Cup

  1. Someone sent me a youtube called :our one love for the all blacks:. Kid in it says he would rather be an All Black than a doctor or a lawyer. That says it all! In fact, if you google that on Youtube, you will see page after page of rugby cult madness. Overidentification much?

  2. had to chuckle recently, statement in an article at about the Government being complicit in power price gouging. Labour energy spokesman David Parker says, “This type of Wall Street greed should have no place in New Zealand!”
    The bloke is evidently blind to the generalised greed that seems to drive most Kiwis. Whether they are gouging tourists or renting out hovels, greed is a hallmark of their society. They may not have a Wall Street, corporate culture, stock market worth mentioning, savings in the bank or any level of industry. But their treatment of others is profit-driven and highly utilitarian.

  3. A year ago the prediction was for 85,000 rugby supporters to attend the tournament from outside New Zealand. A great deal less than for the FIFA world cup.

    Although the RWC2011 is already projected to run at a loss and only half the tickets have been sold, New Zealand’s hospitality industry is unlikely to make any changes to its rooms rates this close to the tournament.

    It’s not just over priced accommodation that is turning people off – who wants to pay $1,000 for an internal flight that would normally cost $99? Where is the added value at places like Party Central that will make visitors feel welcome without asking them to empty their pockets first?

    There is a very real risk of alienating people for years to come and imprinting “rip off New Zealand” as the destination’s brand. Not even a Hobbit movie may undo that damage (nice scenery, shame about the price tag)

    A leading South African hotelier has warned NZ hotels against Rugby World Cup price-gouging, saying “aggressive” pricing was a reason why his country attracted fewer-than-expected fans to last year’s FIFA World Cup.

    South Africa initially forecast the event would draw 450,000 visitors. But the final figure was closer to 300,000.

    Clive Bennett, md of a 5-star hotel on the Cape Town waterfront, is quoted by the NZ Herald newspaper as saying: “Don’t get too aggressive on the room rates. That is a mistake a lot of people made in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics and here in South Africa last year. “People think that for these global events you can push rates through the stratosphere. But you just end up alienating people.

    “One of the reasons we were so far down on visitor numbers (during the FIFA World Cup) was, in my view, price. “There were so many people in the chain and everyone tried to take their cut. But when it went to market, people couldn’t afford it”. The Herald says one Auckland motel has lifted its nightly rate 1000% for the NZ September/October tournament and some homeowners are asking up to $NZ500 a night.

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