Expensive hotels deter Aussie Cup fans - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Expensive hotels deter Aussie Cup fans

Tamara McLean, AAP New Zealand Correspondent 02/05/2011 03:32:37 PM Comments (0)

Expensive tickets and over-priced accommodation are deterring Australians from snapping up tickets for the Rugby World Cup across the ditch, travel agents have warned.

Total Sports Travel, an official agent for the tournament, says sales have been "less than ideal", with general manager Mike Jones telling AAP there had been "plenty to put people off this year".

While sales started off well, they slowed dramatically over summer. Jones said he believed the Queensland floods were a significant deterrent and the Christchurch earthquake on February 22 "certainly didn't help".

"I think the disasters we've been having have made people wary and keen just to stay close to home," he told AAP on Monday.

"In Queensland, there are a lot of people who have lost crops, who are trying to sort out their situations, and getting tickets for games they would usually be going to hasn't been a priority."

He said the global economic recession had cooled off demand.

Costly ticket prices and expensive accommodation were also factors, he said.

There were cases of hotels charging up to 500 per cent more than their normal rate.

"Australians like to think of New Zealand as a cheap destination and usually it is but, as is usually the case in these situations, the prices of hotels are well up and the price of tickets are up too.

"Trying to explain all this to people is really difficult."

He said Australians booked well in advance of the last RWC tournament in France, but that wasn't the case this time.

They had sold packages to about 1,500 people but Jones said at the moment his company was short of its target.

He held out hope that with five months to go, there would be a late run on sales.

"We think of New Zealand as just across the ditch, a domestic market really, so we believe there will be a lot of late bookings," he said.

About 85,000 international visitors are expected in New Zealandfor the tournament, among them 29,000 Australians.

We Love Rugby general manager Sam Harrison, who had previously labelled hotel prices during the event as "ridiculous", told Wellington's Dominion Post it had booked about 2,000 people so far. This was slightly below expectations but demand would grow as the event draws closer, he said.

Rugby World Cup spokesman Shane Harmon told the newspaper the organisation was happy with the interest out of Australia.

As it was a short-haul market, many travellers did not plan far in advance, he said.

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