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News Article

Lions rugby tour a winner for New Zealand tourism

Visiting sports fans would recommend New Zealand for holidays

British sports fans traditionally travel in large numbers for any major sports tour or competition, with cricket or rugby tours to the Southern Hemisphere offering perfect opportunities to combine a holiday with supporting a national team. The British and Irish Lions (the Lions) is a rugby team consisting of players from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, which tours in the Southern Hemisphere every four years visiting either New Zealand, South Africa or Australia.  Between 3 June and 8 July 2017, the Lions series in New Zealand delivered 10 matches across seven venues from Whangarei to Dunedin. A post tour evaluation released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) measures the impact of the 10 game series on New Zealand and the host cities. It shows the total contribution to NZGDP was NZ$194m, jobs wise supporting 2507 FTEs.

The rugby series filled 342,000 seats, with over 53,000 sold to international visitors. The 25,760 international visitors who came to New Zealand, along with over 56,000 domestic travellers, boosted spending in host cities. The report also looks at the broader benefits of the Lions series to New Zealand, focusing on the positive lasting benefits stemming from the series in terms of civic pride and reputation benefits. This was captured through two online surveys of New Zealanders and UK and Ireland adults.

There were around 545,000 international guest nights associated with the 2017 Lions tour, and the report suggests that on average, each international tourist spent NZ$332 per person per night during their stay in New Zealand. There was a direct GDP contribution of the series of NZ$110m, along with NZ$83m in indirect GDP impact. Analysis of the sectors which make up the total contribution of the Series to New Zealand GDP shows that accommodation (35%), food and beverages (24%) and domestic travel (19%) make up close to 80% of the total GDP contribution. Auckland hosted three matches in total including two test matches, and enjoyed the largest GDP impact.

According to visitor surveys, visitors’ expectations were predominately exceeded by the friendliness of the local people (74%), the New Zealand landscape and scenery (69%) and the level of fun and enjoyment experienced (67%). Over two thirds of visitors (68%) are extremely likely to recommend New Zealand to others as a holiday destination, and more than a third (38%) of international visitors surveyed after the tour say they are extremely likely to return to New Zealand for a holiday within the next five years.

Rene de Monchy, Tourism New Zealand’s director of Trade, PR and Major Events welcomed the report. He said: “The Lions tour had a positive impact on perceptions of New Zealand in general, particularly in terms of Kiwis being friendly and welcoming locals. Many of the visitors also talked about the sense of safety they felt in New Zealand. It’s a great endorsement of our country and of our unique Kiwi manaakitanga. 

“We are currently putting all our efforts into attracting visitors outside of the main summer season and getting more visitors to travel beyond the usual tourism regions. The Lions tour was a perfect opportunity to boost the number of European visitors during the winter months and while visitors were here for the rugby, we wanted them to get a taste of what New Zealand has to offer. The survey results demonstrate that’s exactly what happened with many of the rugby fans saying they are extremely likely to visit NZ for a holiday in the next few years.”

Read the full evaluation here.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Simpson
  • Date
  • 05 March 2018
  • Source
  • Tourism New Zealand
  • Subject(s)
  • Sport
  • Tourism