World Masters Games to bring wealthy tourists, organisers say

Organisers expect the World Masters Games to give a significant economic boost to Auckland and to the country as a whole. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Organisers expect the World Masters Games to give a significant economic boost to Auckland and to the country as a whole. Photo / Brett Phibbs

With over 27,000 well-off athletes set to converge on Auckland for the World Masters Games, organisers expect it to give a significant economic boost to the region, and to the country as a whole.

The event, which goes for 10 days from April 21, hosts more athletes than the Olympics, the majority of them amateurs who are coming as much for the scenery and social life as the sport.

Local organising committee chief executive Jennah Wootten said the event was projected to inject $30 million into the Auckland economy, with about 244,000 visitor nights in the city.

That was with the $35.9m it cost to put the games on already taken into account, Wootten said.

About 16,000 of the athletes will be international visitors from some 100 countries and Wootten said that, based on data from previous World Masters Games, they had an average income of over US $100,000 (NZD$145,000).

"We understand that the internationals tend to stay an additional nine days on top of the 10 days they're here. And they're staying those additional days to holiday and make the most of the destination," she said.

"If you compare it to a Cricket World Cup, for instance, those athletes are not wanting to get across to Waiheke or go and spend money in other areas, they're all about playing sport. For us, we know it's quite a different thing: they're wanting to socialise, they're wanting to do the tourist piece as well."

The youngest registered athletes are aged 25 while the oldest, who will compete in athletics, is the grand age of 101. But the majority of competitors are in the 40-59 age bracket.

"They're travelling with family and friends so there's kids, there's husbands and wives ... and you can be sure that they'll also be wanting to experience the destination while they're here," Wootten said.

Organisers were in direct contact with the athletes and were putting a big focus on promoting New Zealand's attractions and events.

They were also making sure to schedule sporting events early to give participants time to plan day trips.

"We're encouraging people to experience the destination, giving them tips on the best places to visit, the best things to do. We want people to see the best of our city and the best of our country while they're here."

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said the games presented the city's businesses with an opportunity.

"You'll have these people coming into the country with obviously sport on their minds but also the social activity that goes around that and a desire to see the country they're visiting," she said.

"We certainly see that events like this bring people into the city and particularly in the areas of accommodation and hospitality, and if people are wanting to add tourism to these as well, there will be positive benefits."

- NZ Herald

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