23 Mar 2023

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited sets out $40m event earnings as budget cuts loom

5:54 am on 23 March 2023
New Zealand fans and supporters.
New Zealand Black Ferns v England, Women’s Rugby World Cup New Zealand 2021 (played in 2022) Grand Final match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday 12 November 2022. (Photo: Photosport)

The Rugby World Cup 2021 (played in 2022) injected an estimated $16.6 million into the region's economy. Photo: Photosport

Auckland's cash strapped economic development agency has laid out exactly how much recent events are worth to the region, as Auckland Council prepares to slash its budget.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited says events it helped bring to the city in the six months to February, including the Rugby World Cup, created a near $40 million economic boost for the region, $13.7m more than the same period in 2019.

Fans during the Women's Rugby World Cup bronze final match between Canada and France at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday November 12, 2022. Copyright photo: Aaron Gillions / www.photosport.nz

Fans during the Women's Rugby World Cup bronze final match between Canada and France at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand in November 2022. Photo: Photosport / Aaron Gillions

Its director of arts, entertainment and events, Richard Clarke, said the economic benefit was felt by local businesses.

"It's everything, from retail to accommodation to hospitality to tourism activities. We have anecdotal replies from retailers within Britomart that say, for example, when the ASB Classic tennis is on or a major event is on, they know their takings will be up."

Clarke said many events held over spring and summer had been postponed due to Covid-19.

"It was perfect in terms of the recovery period but what we are going to run into is the challenge of retaining that level of events due to our current funding and budget challenges."

He said the events calendar was looking empty after this year, and it does not have the funding to bid for big events.

"It's a long-term play. They don't just come about immediately, it's a two to three year minimum lead-in to secure a lot of these events and so our ability to bid and secure events past 2024 is starting to become challenging."

As part of its budget cuts, Auckland Council proposes reducing Tātaki Auckland Unlimited's funding by $27.5 million, on top of $17m the agency was already asked to chop. This would affect its economic development and tourism promotion and pricing at venues it manages such as Auckland Zoo, Auckland Art Gallery, and stadiums and venues in the city.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited helped bring 34 events to the city from September to February, and hosted business events worth nearly $10m to the regional economy.

Among the top three was the Rally of New Zealand, part of the FIA World Rally Championship, held in September, when visitors to the city spent $6.5m, including $2.9m by international travellers.

Then in November, the Rugby World Cup 2021 (played in 2022) injected an estimated $16.6m into the region's economy, including $4.9m from international visitors.

Last January's ASB Classic tennis, hampered by the rain, still provided a $3.4m boost for the economy, a third from international tourists.

USA's Coco Gauff with the winners trophy after winning the ASB Classic at the ASB Tennis Arena, Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday 8 January 2023.© Copyright photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

Coco Gauff, winner of the women's title at the ASB, which provided a $3.4m boost despite poor weather. Photo: Photosport / Chris Symes

The agency's head of major events, Chris Simpson, said the impact of events on residents and visitors could not be dismissed.

"It sends a strong message that Aucklanders and visitors want more of this but as we highlighted last October, a strong events portfolio is only possible through funding and multiple revenue streams," Simpson said.

"You cannot put a price on the impact of events - from social benefits to job creation, and more."

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