The wave of hospitality spending around the Lions game in Rotorua at the weekend has resulted in $3.5 million going through tills in the Bay of Plenty.

Spending through Paymark among merchants such as bars, clubs and cafes amounted to $3.5 million between 9am Friday and 9am Sunday. This was $630,000 higher than experienced on average during the same days and hours of the first four weeks of May - up 22 per cent.

The percentage increase relates to Paymark's non-accommodation hospitality merchants in the Bay of Plenty, including those in Rotorua, Tauranga and Taupo, and therefore understates the percentage growth in Rotorua alone.

Bars in Rotorua, such as Hennessy's Irish Bar on Tutanekai St, had tills ringing from Friday right up until today.


The latest Paymark figures show the spending increase was noticeable from 9am on Saturday (on the morning of the game) and was absent between 8pm and 10pm (during the game).

An extra $162,000 spending happened in the three hours between 4pm and 7pm (before the game) and an extra $81,000 between 10pm and 1am (after the game).

Spending continued to exceed the May average through to 5am Sunday.

Complete figures for Sunday were not yet available but were expected to show, judging on previous games, further spending increases among Bay of Plenty hospitality merchants on Sunday, including among accommodation providers when many payments occur.

As in Otago last week, extra spending was also experienced by sectors such as taxis, liquor stores and fast food outlets on the day of the game.

In total, spending through Paymark in Bay of Plenty was $11.2 million on Saturday, up $208,000 or 1.9 per cent on an average Saturday in May.

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Hennessy's Irish Bar owner Reg Hennessy was one of the many to reap the benefits of the Lions visitors, including having a special visit from an Elton John look-a-like.

Harold McKenzie from Scotland, who was still enjoying the festivities at Hennessy's today, was attracting plenty of attention from locals and fellow visitors who wanted their photos with him and his autograph.

He said he didn't try to look like Elton John on purpose, it's just the way it had worked out since the famous singer dyed his hair blonde.

Mr McKenzie said they were doing an Irish pub tour of New Zealand and were particularly impressed with Hennessy's and its famous seafood chowder.

Mr Hennessy said Mr McKenzie was just one of the many fantastic Lions visitors he had hosted.

"They are always so good."

He said on Saturday night alone he sold 8000 pints of beer (194 kegs), 4000 stubbies of beer, 198 bottles of wine, 67 one litre bottles of spirits, 503 meals and 78 corporate platters.

He worked 19-and-a-half hours straight and his staff "went over the top" working hard to please everyone.