Tauranga's AIMS Games has injected nearly $2 million into the city's economy after a bumper event this year.
September's NZCT AIMS Games, a Tauranga City Council flagship event generated 37,500 visitor nights, and contributed $1.52 million to western Bay of Plenty's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) - a 607 per cent return on regional investment.
The AIMS Games, a premier sporting event for 11, 12 and 13 year olds, is a strategic partnership between Sport Bay of Plenty, Tauranga City Council and the four western Bay of Plenty intermediate schools.
With more athletes than the Commonwealth Games, this year's AIMS Games attracted 13,800 people including 7320 competitors, 1760 teachers and helpers, and 4720 supporters - 68 percent of whom were visitors to the western Bay of Plenty. The athletes were from 228 schools, competing in 17 different sports.
Tauranga City Council, who contributed $30,000 to the 2014 AIMS Games, commissioned an economic evaluation of the event, looking at the financial costs and benefits from the event on the western Bay of Plenty.
The key economic highlights were:
- The NZCT AIMS Games 2014 attracted 9400 visitors to the western Bay of Plenty, generating 37,500 visitor nights with each visitor staying an average of four nights.
- Visitor spend in western Bay of Plenty of $1.96 million through goods and services including accommodation, food and beverage, transport, retail shopping, attractions and entertainment.
- The event injected an additional $390,000 into the regional economy over and above the cost to organise the event - a 607 per cent return on regional investment.
Tauranga City Mayor Stuart Crosby, who officially opened the 2014 event at the ASB Arena, said the AIMS Games have become a major event for the city and highlight the calibre and accessibility of venues and facilities in Tauranga.
"With more athletes than the Commonwealth Games, the AIMS Games had a positive off-peak impact for tourism, accommodation and local businesses, and showcased 15 of our venues and facilities, including golf courses, sports fields and facilities, aquatic centres, ASB Arena and McLaren Falls Park."
Mr Crosby said he was delighted with the return on investment to the local economy from the event.
"Tauranga City Council is continuing to invest in major events as a significant contributor to the Tauranga economy. In our 2014/15 Annual Plan, we allocated $382,000 from rates for events in the city as part of our Events Investment Strategy, plus $200,000 from external funders for major events.
"In addition to the direct economic spin offs from hosting major events - accommodation, food and beverage, transport, retail shopping, attractions and entertainment - they add to the vibrancy of our city and help support future growth and prosperity," he said.
Sailing will be included in next year's event, following a proposal by Yachting New Zealand - increasing the number of sports to 18 - the same number of sports as the Commonwealth Games.
"Introducing sailing will be an additional opportunity to showcase Tauranga Harbour."
Tauranga City Council manager of strategic events Pip Loader said Flagship event like AIMS Games were a great opportunity to grow and promote the region.
"With the AIMS Games, the international cricket venue at Bay Oval, Tauranga Hockey's international-standard hockey facilities, Magic netball and Tall Blacks games at ASB Arena, the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman, as well as our arts and cultural events and festivals, Tauranga is on track to play a powerhouse role for events," she said.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said the 11th AIMS Games were the biggest yet, with 1000 more competitors than last year's event.
"It was an unforgettable week of sport. Tauranga came alive in a massive way and local businesses in particular have been absolutely delighted with the boost they received. The tournament was again a huge success and received very positive feedback," Ms Semple said.
"We were once again delighted to have New Zealand Community Trust, one of the largest funders of amateur sport in New Zealand, as our elite sponsor. Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust , as our principal sponsor, and NZCT have been extremely enthusiastic in their sponsorship of the NZCT AIMS GAMES and we thank them for their support. We were also pleased to have Anchor Milk (Fonterra Brands NZ) as a new major sponsor this year."