Rotorua Weekender: Lions Tour Match will provide tourism boost for Rotorua

Friday, July 24, 2015

News that the British & Irish Lions Rugby will visit Rotorua in 2017 to play the Maori All Blacks is welcome, and will certainly provide a boost to our local economy. As with 2005, when the Lions come to town, tens of thousands from the UK will come with them.

The tour offers an opportunity to showcase our region to rugby fans and a media scrum that will also follow. They will visit and enjoy Rotorua’s many world class attractions with images of our beautiful city broadcast to millions of potential tourists around the world. As important, they will fill up our hotel and motel beds, eat in our restaurants and I dare say visit a few bars. Back in 2005 the Lions visit to Rotorua was a big event and predictions are that 2017 will be even bigger.

A tour of this type is a huge crowd puller. An additional 21,000 international visitors came to New Zealand as part of the 2005 Lions tour. A report after the three-week tour showed that it boosted our economy to the tune of $116 million. Rotorua was the host of the first tour match and visitors spent up big whilst here.

Rotorua is the centre of Maori culture and a tourism mecca so it seems fitting that we should host the Lions as they take on the Maori All Blacks. Traditionally a ferocious encounter, often referred to as a fourth test match, I’m sure the game will be played to an incredibly high standard by both sides.

Rotorua is rebuilding a strong reputation as a safe city that's fun to visit. Our visitor offering is diverse and we have something to offer every member of the family. Tourism is our biggest employer and brings in a significant amount to the local economy. Our world class reputation grows with popular international events building our profile. Crankworx and the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon, our Spa City concept championed by Mayor Chadwick, with QE Spa and the Polynesian Spa, bubbling mud and a hard to forget smell all marking us out as a truly special place to visit, and importantly come back to.

Events and attractions like these lead to more visitors, more economic growth and ultimately more jobs for local people.

Bring on the Lions in 2017. I can’t wait to buy tickets.