For Tourism New Zealand, the six week tournament is an opportunity to capitalize on the international exposure of the tour to showcase the range of experiences New Zealand has to offer.
Up to 100 journalists from some of the world’s leading media organisations will be in New Zealand to cover part or all of the games. “Our job is to ensure the wider New Zealand story is included in the international media coverage generated by the tour,” says Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen England-Hall.
“Through the work of our content team and hosting of International media, including a highly successful ‘one year to go’ visit, Tourism New Zealand has already generated international coverage about New Zealand worth more than $1.6m in estimated advertising value.
“Our trade team in London has also been working closely with travel sellers, providing input into the travel packages and tour itineraries, encouraging visitors to extend their visit around the tour and to travel to more regions.
“Now the tournament is getting underway, we have another six weeks to show what New Zealand has to offer by way of winter events, activities, welcoming people and world class scenery and landscapes. The Lions festival programme is a celebration of events from one end of the country to the other and a prime opportunity to show off regions such as Northland that are less well known to international visitors,” says Stephen.
Tourism New Zealand is working closely with the tournament organisers and will lead an in-tournament media programme of events. As well as hosting key journalists and facilitating story content, Tourism New Zealand is also supporting the Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) who will open their cities to the fans with a programme of events from Whangarei in the far north to Dunedin in the south.
More than 20,000 visitors are expected to arrive in New Zealand for the Lions tour, most of them from the UK (15,000) and from Australia.
As part of Tourism New Zealand’s commitment to safer driving, a rugby-related Facebook campaign is targeting visitors arriving for the tour. The FB posts encourage drivers to rest before they drive and to allow themselves enough time to get to their destination.
There will be ten matches played during the tournament, including three test matches against the All Blacks. The first game kicks off in Whangarei on Saturday when the Lions meet the Barbarians. Tourism New Zealand will host a welcome for international media at Waitangi on Sunday.