Trade bosses are targeting 200 executives heading to the Rugby World Cup for special treatment.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise says the chance to pitch to visiting movers and shakers offers businesses a unique opportunity to showcase themselves in a unique Kiwi way.

"A lot of that we typically do overseas with trade shows and missions. Here's an opportunity to do it at home where you've got a wider range of people, industries and home business," said NZTE's World Cup manager, Peter Bull.

The executives are among the 85,000 visitors estimated to be heading here for the cup with spending power economists say should provide a GDP boost.

NZTE has already allocated or spent $1.5 million to set up industry showcases and hold a series of functions around the world hosted by World Cup ambassadors to drum up interest among business leaders targeted as potential visitors to the tournament starting in September.

A further $300,000 will be spent on hosting and domestic travel for top executives. None would be spent on tickets or getting them to this country.

Bull said NZTE research found about half of the top 100 companies in the world had some link to rugby, even if just support of local teams.

His organisation worked closely with 500 businesses and a further 2000 occasionally and these could be matched up with the visiting executives.

"We're looking at the opportunity to get a day or so of their time when they're down here. We want to do that in the New Zealand style - get away from corporate boardrooms, see businesses in the flesh and perhaps get out on the golf course or out for dinner," Bull said.

"We're not suggesting a lot of deals are going to come out of that initial contact during Rugby World Cup but what we're intent on doing is building some key relationships for the future."

A number of companies would hold board meetings here while the tournament was on.

The main targets would come from Britain, France, Japan, Australia and South Africa.

A recent promotion in the United States had also uncovered strong interest in rugby among Ivy League graduates with 6000 of them identified as "rugby alumini".

"What we're able to get into is some interesting networks around the Ivy League universities in the US where we typically haven't had too many contacts.

The overseas-hosted events had uncovered target executives, as had NZTE's offices and overseas travel agents bringing them to New Zealand for the cup.

Industries that would be of interest to visiting business people include food, wine, agriculture, communication technology, marine, aviation, film and fashion. There are already a number of shows or festivals featuring these sectors timed to coincide with the World Cup, which kicks off on September 9.

Emirates airline says an increased capacity into Auckland from today is a timely boost during World Cup year. The number of seats available on the Auckland-Brisbane-Dubai route will increase by 672 a week with the use of a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft instead of the current Airbus A340-500.