B&B 'free' to charge $1600 - and risk scaring tourists off

By Susie Nordqvist, NZ Herald staff

English woman Jacqui Marsden was quoted $1600 a night to stay at the Eden Park Bed and Breakfast (pictured) during next year's Rugby World Cup.
English woman Jacqui Marsden was quoted $1600 a night to stay at the Eden Park Bed and Breakfast (pictured) during next year's Rugby World Cup.

Tourism Auckland CEO Graham Osbourne says a Mt Eden bed and breakfast is free to charge as much as it likes during next year's Rugby World Cup, but warned that "reckless" prices could drive business away from the city.

Jacqui Marsden was horrified to discover she had been quoted NZ$1600 for a one-night stay in a Mt Eden bed and breakfast during next year's Rugby World Cup.

The Yorkshire woman said she was shocked at the quote, which she was given following an email enquiry to Eden Park Bed and Breakfast last month.

"This is the free market [but for that price] I would assume it's a damned fine breakfast," Mr Osbourne told John Campbell on TV3's Campbell Live tonight.

Mr Osbourne said 43,000 people are expected to be in Auckland for the critical stages of the tournament, and prices like the one quoted by Eden Park Bed and Breakfast could force rugby tourists to consider looking for beds outside of Auckland, or even in Australia.

This follows an earlier warning from industry groups telling accommodation providers to treat the Rugby World Cup like a peak season or face being priced out of the market.

"Cycles are a fact of life and it is a time to make some money - but not be reckless and over the top," Mr Osbourne said.

When questioned by a TV3 reporter, the wife of host Anthony McAnulty said the bed and breakfast had not received any bookings for the World Cup and that while they offered some packages, they had yet to decide what price to charge during the tournament because they were waiting to see what the market does.

She said she did not know who would have quoted prices up to 500% higher than their usual rates and was "quite disappointed" about the email received by Marsden.

"I don't think he [McAnulty] was very happy about that being disclosed," she told Campbell Live's Mihingarangi Forbes.

Marsden who, with her husband, will be in New Zealand for the duration of the cup, said accommodation providers needed to be mindful of not exploiting tourists who were already paying thousands of pounds to travel to New Zealand.

"From a personal point of view I'm happy to pay and accept I'm going to pay a premium because it's a business opportunity," she told nzherald.co.nz earlier today.

"I think businesses need be mindful of what that premium is and be realistic."

The Rugby World Cup runs from September 10 to the weekend beginning October 22 next year, with nine games scheduled to be played at Eden Park, including the semi-finals and finals.

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