Lions tour worth nearly $31 million to Wellington

When the British and Irish Lions rugby fans roared into Wellington last year it was converted into a $30.7 million economic impact for the region.

A PwC report released today shows the economic impact on Wellington’s GDP of visitors who listed the Lions as the “main” reason for their trip to the capital was $30.7m.

It saw 16,013 international visitors and 21,572 domestic tourists attend the Lions two matches in Wellington against the Hurricanes on 27 June, and the All Blacks on 1 July.

However, when factoring in people who were partly influenced to visit Wellington because of the rugby, WREDA estimates the overall economic impact to the regional economy would have been between $5m to $6m more than the official figure.

WREDA’s Partnerships and Events General Manager Warrick Dent says the economic activity of the Lions tour gave a boost to what are traditionally slower winter months.

“The key to Wellington’s economic success during the Lions series was partly due to WREDA negotiating with New Zealand Rugby to ensure the Hurricanes game was played in the same week as the second test. It saw Wellington be the only city to host two games in a week during the tour.

“We were sure a double-header would lead to visitors spending more time exploring the Wellington region and the economic results show we were on the money with our thinking.

“Most accommodation providers had few, if any, vacancies heading into test match Saturday, and the hospitality sector enjoyed their best week of the year.”

Sectors other than accommodation and hospitality also prospered including tour operators whose products were sold through the WREDA-operated Wellington iSite, Mr Dent says.

“From Monday 26 June to Monday 3 July, the iSite sales figures show 813 visitors collectively spent nearly $79,000 on tours. Over the same period in 2016, 279 visitors were involved in $32,600 worth of transactions.

“Martinborough wine tours were so popular that when they were quickly snapped up, iSite staff hit the phones to organise alternative tours for Lions fans which also sold out. It was easily the busiest week at the iSite that staff can remember. They did a tremendous job.”

Spending in the capital topped $471.8m in June 2017, up 8.4 per cent on the previous year.