Lions tour a winner for tourism

More than a third (38%) of international visitors surveyed after the British and Irish Lions tour say they are extremely likely to return to New Zealand for a holiday within the next five years. 

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 $194m, jobs wise supporting 2507 FTEs.

And as well as being an economic success for New Zealand the report shows the tour was also a winner for tourism, with both Kiwis and visitors praising the tour which attracted 25,760 international visitors.

The report 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. Some key findings: 

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.”

 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.” 

The tour also successfully lifted New Zealand’s profile as a host of  major events  with the majority of visitors (74% UK, 76% Ireland) saying the tour was a real credit to New Zealand and its ability to host world class events.  

The Lions series is played in New Zealand once in every twelve years. In total, 342,000 seats were filled to watch matches across seven venues from Whangarei to Dunedin, with more than 53,000 seats filled by international visitors. On average, each international tourist spent $332 per person per night during their stay in New Zealand.

 Read the full evaluation here.