A superyacht support service has had inquiries from owners of three vessels over 100m for berths in Auckland during the America's Cup which a tourist group says ''could put cream on the top of summer''.

AsiaPacific Superyachts managing director Duthie Lidgard said the Cup in 2021 would be a big opportunity for Auckland.

Superyachts come here for maintenance and their owners and crew spend millions of dollars on luxury tourism experiences.

Adding more berths for 30m-plus superyachts would help.


''With current berthing arrangements we would have to look at turning them away from coming to our docks.''

Lidgard said the Marine Precinct was already struggling with day-to-day operations.

Boatyards doing maintenance were close to maximum capacity for refits but Lidgard said
Kiwis always find a way to fit more work in and the global exposure could inject life into superyacht construction businesses.

''It would be a massive coup for New Zealand as a whole and possibly the exposure required for boat-building operations to reopen.''

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said that after reading the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment report, he concluded the immediate impact would be useful but not massive for the overall tourist industry.

''There are other events that attract more tourists but they are likely to be high-spending tourists and could add in the region of an additional $50 million,'' he said.

''It's useful but in the context of a $14.5 billion spend annually, it's a nice bonus.''

Roberts said the biggest impact would be in global exposure, raising Auckland's profile and highlighting the city's ability to host big events.


He said if the event was held during the summer peak there was a risk that there would be pressure on accommodation and facilities and displace other visitors.

During the last successful defence of the Cup in 2000, superyachts averaged around 35m to 40m and just a few made the voyage to New Zealand.

They now averaged over 55m in length and more were adventuring to New Zealand as part of their bucket list.

A survey by the New Zealand Superyacht Group found that in three seasons to 2016 visiting superyachts of over 30m were worth $218.2m to the New Zealand economy.

Of that national total $174.6m was spent in the marine sector and $43.64m in the tourism sector.

Of the tourism spend nearly a third was in personal shopping, 14 per cent was on eating and drinking and 12 per cent on sports and recreation. Health and beauty spend was 9 per cent and helicopter hire, 7 per cent.

In Auckland the contribution was more than $163m.

The superyacht A in Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker
The superyacht A in Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker

Of just on 5000 superyachts around the world New Zealand was attracting just 0.5 per cent of them.

''As such, there is significant potential for New Zealand to grow the number of superyachts visiting the country.''

In Auckland the contribution was more than $163m, with a higher proportion of spending on eating and drinking.

Tourism New Zealand has a big pitch at the luxury end of the market and says it is already detecting interest among the very wealthy in coming here for the Cup.

The organisation's chief executive, Stephen England-Hall, said while it was early days but it was fair to say it could represent a sizeable opportunity. ''In particular it's likely to be of interest to premium travellers and New Zealand has a world-class luxury tourism offering.''

The top end of the travel market - the ultra wealthy with income of $50m plus - is growing faster than the rest of the market.

Tourism Economics forecast that global travel and tourism industry will grow at average 4.8 per cent per year between 2015 and 2025 but luxury travel - the America's Cup watching end of the market - is expected to grow at average of 6.2 per cent a year.

Although Bermuda is a different tourism proposition, the island enjoyed a spinoff from the America's Cup.

The Royal Gazette reported the number of people arriving on the island by air rose by 16 per cent in the first half of 2017. Figures until June of this year also show visitor spending was up by 31 per cent compared with the same period in 2016.

And while the island saw a 10 per cent increase in visitors from the US, arrivals from Canada, Britain, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia also increased.

There was an 83 per cent surge in visitors from other areas, with more than 1000 visitors travelling from New Zealand to watch the America's Cup, the paper reported.