Statistics New Zealand released the visitor numbers for the RWC on Tuesday (a conference in Melbourne has delayed my response - I write this post on a barmy Melbourne Friday night) and they make for rapturous applause! Initial projections of 95,000 international visitors were blown off the park with a staggering 133,200 visitors here for the Rugby World Cup between July and October.
A brief closer look at the visitor statistics, however, reveals some interesting insights (which are not mentioned in the press release).
While there was a sizeable (17%) increase in short term overseas visitor arrivals in October 2011 compared to the same time in 2010, net short term overseas visitor arrivals were actually negative (-22,361) on the back of a 32% increase in short-term overseas visitor departures. Rather interesting that this is the only year between 2001 and 2011 in which net short term visitor arrivals are negative.
If we look at the net visitor arrivals for the October month between the years of 2001 and 2010, the average total net visitor arrivals in October was 53,480, with a maximum of 68,971 in 2005 and a minimum of 41,260 in 2003. In 2011, the net visitor arrival figure was -4,337. This is the first net loss in international visitors to this country in the October month in at least eleven years (the StatsNZ spreadsheet data doesn't go back any further - although I'd certainly like to look back further). This, and the net short-term visitor arrival results are almost as staggering as the results of the actual number of visitors here for the RWC. I know we are in the grip of a global financial crisis and we've had the Christchurch earthquakes, but figures of this nature are really eye-catching. This can go some way towards explaining the muted response that has been reported in the media to date on the spending impacts of the RWC, I suspect - quite some way, in fact. I'll take a look at the September month figures in a later post - a more in-depth look is required!