Rugby World Cup spruikers shown up by visitor numbers

"Crowding out" effect sees Rugby World Cup boost visitors numbers by only 45,000 - half of what is being claimed by organisers.

Rugby World Cup organisers are crowing about an influx of 80,000 overseas visitors, but underlying trends indicate the event’s boost to New Zealand tourism is only half what is being claimed.

Statistics New Zealand reported visitors arrivals for the month of September included 74,400 tagged as “Rugby World Cup arrivals,” taking the total visiting for the tournament to 80,000.

Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden said in a statement the numbers were were “fantastic” news. IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset called the figures “outstanding.”

But, according to Statistics New Zealand, despite this surge in visitor numbers September’s arrivals numbers are only up 45,800 on the same period last year.

The discrepancy between RWC arrivals and the lesser actual increase in tourist numbers is likely due to what economists call the “crowding out” effect.

Simply put, while RWC attracted 74,400 people to visit the country, around 30,000 people decided not to travel here - either because of fears of price-gouging, or a dislike of rugby -  because of the tournament.

A similar effect was seen when South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 450,000 tourists visited the Republic for that event, but the net arrivals figure during the tournament was only up 200,000 on the previous year.

Mr Snedden said in his statement boosting tourism arrivals was a key reason for hosting RWC.

“Attracting visitors to New Zealand was a key part of the rationale for holding the seventh Rugby World Cup and a critical payoff for the investment this country has made to make the Tournament a success,” he said.

Mr Snedden said he expected 95,000 RWC visitors in total once final figures were tallied.

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