ADVOCATE COLUMN 4th WEEK FEBRUARY 2014
In May and June 2015 Whangarei will be privileged to be one of the host venues for the FIFA Under 20 World Cup. Whangarei will host four matches including three pool matches and one match from the knock-out round. This FIFA’s second-biggest men’s tournament and this will be the first time it has taken place in Australasia since 1993. Over 9,000 foreign visitors, officials and media, are predicted to travel to New Zealand for the tournament with a total attendance of 500,000 expected. The 52 matches of the New Zealand tournament will be broadcast to over 100 counties, with an estimated TV audience of 170 million.
What will this directly mean for Whangarei and Northland? Firstly the event could bring in more than $3.5 million to the district’s economy and will expose Whangarei to thousands of foreign visitors and tens of millions in TV audiences. This is an opportunity to showcase our region to the world as a unique destination. Unlike the Rugby World Cup it is likely that teams, their support staff and their supporters will spend much longer in Northland providing them more time to gain a lasting impression of our unique point of difference as a destination.
This event is little over a year away. Early this year we will be visited by FIFA officials for their final sign-off on venues and accommodation. Then early next year the official draw will be made announcing what teams we will be hosting. This offers two further occasions for promoting Whangarei and Northland’s reputation on the international stage. If any lessons can be learnt from the Rugby World Cup it is that businesses cannot begin planning for this event to soon.
If this is to be a uniquely Whangarei experience, then it is essential that when we engage with the teams and their supporters that we have fun, express how we love it here and provide an authentic experience that show cases the best that we have to offer. Local business need to consider how they will deliver a ‘world class’ experience – be familiar with what this looks like and how it relates to their business, invest in themselves and their staff, know their market – be clear on who they are trying to attract then ensure they are giving them what they want, encourage regular visitor feedback and engage in up-skilling, training and networking opportunities.