Rally of Whangarei a $5.6m boost for economy

By Mike Dinsdale

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April's International Rally of Whangarei will bring more than $5 million of economic benefits to Whangarei, including international media exposure. Photo/File
April's International Rally of Whangarei will bring more than $5 million of economic benefits to Whangarei, including international media exposure. Photo/File

The International Rally of Whangarei should bring about $5.6 million worth of economic benefits to the district, an assessment has found.

The rally, featuring some of the world's top drivers, will be held in Whangarei for the eighth time from April 11 to 13.

The event will also host several other rallies, including the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Pacific Cup, Junior Cup and New Zealand Rally Championship.

A Whangarei District Council assessment of the rally found it brought a direct economic benefit to the district of $2.8 million, with international exposure estimated at $2.78 million, for a total benefit of $5.58 million.

The international event attracts a large media contingent and will screen in 183 countries around the world, including huge television audiences in China and India, meaning that economic benefit should be at least met, if not exceeded, this year, council economic development manager Peter Gleeson said.

Councillor Phil Halse said the rally was a huge event for the district. "Our sports strategy of bringing international events to our district is really paying off.

"We've got different events to suit different sports bases and there are a lot of people coming from Auckland and elsewhere to spend money in our district at these events."

Cr Shelley Deeming said the council spent about $25,000 on hosting the rally and $5.6 million of benefits was a great return for that outlay.

Cr John Williamson said the rally drivers loved driving on the district's metal roads.

Rally organisers are responsible for returning the roads to their pre-rally condition after racing finished.

But Cr Tricia Cutforth wondered what sort of message it was sending to allow cars to "come and rip up our rural roads" when the council was trying to market the district.

The International Rally of Whangarei will begin on April 11 with a ceremonial start in the Cameron St Mall, with the teams heading out for the starting stages the following morning. The touring stages between the special stages also add to the profile of the event.

While much of the rallying will be done on metal roads well away from the centre of Whangarei, the special stage to be held at Pohe Island will bring high-octane racing right into the city.

The Rally Service Park will be at the Town Basin where spectators can watch the pit crew's work to keep the cars running during the weekend.

The event ends in a ceremonial finish at the Town Basin.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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