Snedden outlines economic boost of Rugby World Cup
Martin Snedden, Chief Executive of Rugby New Zealand 2011 (RNZ2011) has revealed that he expects this year's Rugby World Cup to attract nearly 100,000 visitors from abroad.
At a media briefing in Sydney this week, Snedden said the tournament would give the country a timely boost after the devastating earthquake that struck Christchurch on 22nd February. While Christchurch has been dropped as a host city due to the damage sustained in the disaster, Snedden is confident the World Cup will come at the right time to lift the mood of the nation.
Snedden explained "at the moment, we're picking about 85,000 to 95,000 visitors.
"We started out thinking it might be around 60,000 or 70,000, based on the Sydney Olympics and Rugby World Cup in 2003, but the offshore sales have been incredibly strong."
Snedden told the Reuters news agency "it will be good timing for New Zealand - it will be a real fillip. We have gone through a period of shock, we are still going through a period of grieving. I think what will happen as the year goes on, is that people outside Christchurch will gradually get back to normal, and excitement will grow.
"In the end, it's possible that the earthquake will create an emotional feeling that New Zealanders will want the World Cup to be even more successful than they have previously been thinking. You look for things that unify, and this is an event that will unify the country."
New Zealand Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said in January that staging the event would inject about over $500 million into the country's economy, boosting the nation's gross domestic product by about 0.33%. A separate report from Deloitte has suggested that the overall economic impact could end up being as much as $1.9 billion.
Snedden also cautioned New Zealanders not to become too obsessed with the All Blacks in the tournament and to focus on being hospitable hosts.
Snedden feared that the expectation within the host nation that the tournament favourites would this year end a 24-year World Cup drought was "overwhelming", adding that it was crucial the passion did not cloud the country's endeavour to be perfect hosts to the other participating nations and their fans during the tournament.
Snedden explained that "the expectation on the All Blacks is huge," adding that "we took a lot of comfort from watching how India handled the recent cricket World Cup, and managed to find their way through it. And the expectations on the All Blacks is nothing compared to the Indian cricket team."
However, Snedden believes it will be crucial for the host nation to look past their team, and embrace the tournament concept, even if the All Blacks suffer another World Cup stumble.
The 20-team tournament will comprise 48 matches from 9th September through to 23rd October.
Image: Auckland's Eden Park will host the Rugby World Cup on 23rd October.
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