Investing in great visuals — such as golf

By Andrew Whiley
A voice from the south

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I do not believe that Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) or the NZ Government Events Fund should have invested in the Joseph Parker world boxing organisation title fight against Mexico’s Andy Ruiz in Auckland. I am just not sure how you can leverage an event like this to a global market.
When I think of investments in events, I think of “global eyeballs” that will see the event and go “wow”.
Yes, I am aware that millions of boxing and sporting fans will watch this event but whenever I have watched boxing, I don’t think I have ever thought “What an amazing location. I should go there”.
I may have enjoyed the event and the drama in the ring and I believe the Parker-Ruiz event will be just as spectacular. However, I’m not expecting to watch a boxing match which includes a tourism plug about local Auckland sites and amenities.
I remember when I lived overseas and used to watch the New Zealand Open on television. The visuals from Gulf Harbour for the World Cup, watching Mathew Lane winning the NZ Open at Formosa or the Tiger Woods New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu Beach where Craig Parry won — these were events that promoted the regions and showed off their settings.
I often had friends talking to me about how great the golf courses looked and how they couldn’t wait to visit New Zealand to play golf.
Today, when the NZ Open is played at The Hills (or at Millbrook next year) my Facebook goes off with my friends commenting how great the golf course looks or about the amazing scenery.
The NZ Open telecast had the largest broadcasting scope ever, with 25.8 million households receiving live coverage and 22.4 million households receiving nightly highlights. The coverage reached over 20 countries including Australia, France, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
New Zealand Tourism believed the NZ Open delivered significant profile gains with international journalists publishing articles about their time in New Zealand. These articles reached over six million people and the equivalent advertising value of these articles was estimated to be just over $1 million NZD.
It is estimated that more than 61,000 international visitors played golf in New Zealand in the last year equating to a value of $329 million. The average spend by the visiting golfer was $5385 which was up 18 percent from the previous year ($4563).
These visitors are active travellers and enjoy other tourism activities especially our food and wine. Not all of these visitors are playing the Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers but many are enjoying the variety of wonderful club courses we have like Waitangi and Taupo Golf Club.
So, when I hear commentators in the media rant about how the Parker-Ruiz boxing event should be funded at the same level that the government and tourism invests in golf, I think they better review what the investment is all about.
What will the return be? What is the supporting industry? Sorry, but I am not sure that we would be able to quantify the boxing tourist and calculate the value of what they see and do and translate this to a return-on-investment.
The recent announcement of the support from the government and Ateed over the LPGA New Zealand Open next September in Auckland and the 2017 Asia-Pacific Amateur in Wellington in October will provide an amazing month of golf.
Millions of visuals will go out globally, resulting in thousands of golfers and often their partners, families and friends travelling to our wonderful golfing country. They may not come next year but like my friends, they keep saying “yes” they are definitely coming sometime soon.
So no matter if you agree with my views or not, what I do know is that by the time you read this article, the Parker-Ruiz fight will probably be over. And hopefully, we’ll be celebrating his win.

Sarah HeadComment