Hospitality will miss out on a much needed shot in the arm as New Zealand loses out on hosting the 2020 Rugby Championship in November.
World rugby governing body Sanzaar confirmed on Friday that the 2020 Rugby Championship, featuring the All Blacks, will be played only in Australia.
Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said it was a “sad day” for the events sector.
“It’s a double whammy for hospitality operators off the back of these Covid-19 times,” White said.
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“These are the things people look forward to. It’s going to have a huge impact.”
In July, Sanzaar gave approval for the tournament to be held in New Zealand from early November to mid-December, pending suitable facilities for teams to quarantine and train.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern blamed “Sanzaar politics” for the change of heart.
Ardern said earlier on Friday she would be disappointed if the tournament had been given to Australia, saying a huge amount of effort had gone into the bid, with plans to quarantine teams in Queenstown.
“We put in a huge amount of effort into that bid, the tournament and even the players, even creating a regime where they could be playing within three days of arrival.
“If the results don’t go our way it would be a result of Sanzaar politics,” Ardern said.
“The arrangements we proposed included training while in quarantine. We worked very hard with health and the tournament organisation to make sure we looked after people’s health and didn’t jeopardise the tournament. It did mean that they’d be able to train within three days.”
Economist Benje Patterson said losing the bid could hurt New Zealand’s reputation as being one of the country’s at the forefront of beating Covid-19, as well as a significant blow to the country’s already struggling hospitality sector.
“It really would’ve been a welcome shot in the arms for bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers,” Patterson said.
“If the championship had been held in New Zealand it would have showcased to the world our success at combating Covid-19 and what a great place we are,” Patterson said.
“There would have been interviews with players talking about New Zealand as a destination which would put as top of the mind for many travellers,” he said.
Wellington Sky Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said Sanzaar’s announcement was disappointing and regions would miss out on millions in visitor spending.
“We’re disappointed but understand the challenges. But we’re fortunate in that we’re scheduled to host the Bledisloe Cup, hopefully in front of a full house, in October,” Harmon said.
“Its other centres such as Dunedin, Christchurch and Hamilton that I feel for. A test match typically brings in $8 million out-of-region visitor spend,” Harmon said.
Patterson said the championship would have also boosted domestic travel.
He said losing the bid would force sporting bodies to rethink of plans well into next year.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is lasting longer than we thought it would, so from a risk perspective you’ll be re-evaluating your sporting calendar.”
White said people needed events to look forward to and hoped this would not deter other sporting bodies from having events in New Zealand.
“I can’t emphasise enough how much these events drive a sense of community wellbeing and bring vibrancy,” she said.
Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner said the losing the deal was an “immense blow” to the stadium after losing two sell out rugby games due to the level 3 measures in Auckland last month.
Sautner said the cancellation, postponement and rescheduling of events at Eden Park had a ripple effect through its entire business.
“The stadia industry is in crisis and this news will impact our full time and part time event day staff and will likely eventuate in some roles being reviewed and disestablished,” Sautner said.
“Our events provide employment for more than 3000 Kiwis across cleaning, catering, security, traffic management, medics, facilities, turf management, maintenance and operational staff.
“Our supply chain and local community substantially benefit economically as a result of our events and they’re suffering as we continue to navigate restrictions.
Sautner said the industry needed to work with Auckland Council and the government to find a solution to operate despite Covid-19.