The Numbers Game: Lions Tour


3.5million that’s the number of tourists New Zealand attracted in 2016, which was up by 22 per cent on 2014 numbers. And remember New Zealand only has a resident population of 4.8 million people, so that’s a fair in flux of temporary people to the land of the long white cloud. And this will be boosted in Rugby-mad New Zealand by the British and Irish Lions who bring with them a large fan base of cashed up boisterous rugby supporters who will make a big impact on the cash register of New Zealand pubs, clubs and restaurants not to mention hotels and accommodation and additional tourist experiences when the rugby is not on.

According to HSBC Global Research, the last Lions tour, in June 2005, boosted tourism numbers by 30,000 people which is 10 per cent of monthly arrivals. On top of the Rugby and Cricket World Cups of 2011 and 2015 respectively ‘sports diplomacy’ does its bit for the NZ economy, as does cultural diplomacy via the ‘Lord of the Rings’ boom that boosted the Kiwi tourist industry’s coffers.

According to HSBC Global Research, Tourist spending was worth NZ$10.1 billion in 2016, or 4 per cent of GDP, which makes tourism NZ’s second largest exporter earner after dairy. And it’s not just rugger buggers, like Australia, NZ is having a Chinese tourist boom. There has been an increase in Chinese arrivals of 180 per cent in five years, ahead of an increase in 32 per cent for the US. So China will help the Kiwi tourism sector tick over once the DHL British and Irish Lions leave News Zealand’s shores.

Tim Harcourt is the JW Nevile Fellow in Economics at UNSW Sydney and host of The Airport Economist on Sky News Business Channel and Qantas

Data source: HSBC Global Research, DHL

This was first published in the Herald Sun newspaper, thanks to DHL for their assistance.

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