Soccer isn’t the national pastime in Australia or New Zealand, but visitors during the Women’s World Cup can’t say that.
The tournament’s co-hosts have risen to the occasion by rolling out the red carpet in anticipation of the arrival of football fans. Brightly colored banners emblazoned with the slogan wave of competition in the cold winter air Placards plastered across major cities and airports show support for local teams.
Bringing the tournament down was seen as an attempt to grow the women’s game, but the hosts hope it will be a boost to reinvigorate tourism after years of Covid restrictions that saw both countries close their borders.
Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said hosting the Women’s World Cup was „seen as a way to welcome the world back to Australia and New Zealand”.
„There was a point throughout the process leading up to the Women’s World Cup where tourism became even more important because we wanted to show the world that even though Australia has been closed for the better part of two years, it’s open for business,” Johnson told reporters. In a call earlier this month.
Soccer Australia estimates it will contribute about $329 million to the country’s economy, with at least $174 million expected to come from tourists.
„These types of events really allow us to raise awareness,” said Rene de Monchi, CEO of Tourism New Zealand. told CNN’s Richard Quest. „So we’re trying to capitalize on that opportunity.”
New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment estimates 20,500 to 25,500 international visitors will visit the country for the tournament, which ends on Sunday.
When the coronavirus first struck in 2020, both countries were seen as prime examples of how countries could successfully contain it by deploying preemptive lockdowns and strict border measures. Australia and New Zealand have largely kept themselves Covid-free as the number of Covid cases and deaths increased globally.
But their success came at a cost. They were closed internationally and restrictions became increasingly unpopular as rules were dragged out, which hurt the economy. New Zealand canceled its last covid operation just days ago.
According to Tourism AustraliaThe country received about 9.5 million international arrivals in 2019, a record high. In the following year, when Covid was at its peak, tourism fell by more than 80% and will continue to decline.
In 2021, only 246,400 people visited the country. Most public health restrictions were lifted by the end of that year. Subsequently, visitor arrivals to Australia increased, with an estimated 3.7 million visitors expected by 2022, but the tourism industry has not fully recovered.
The picture is the same in New Zealand. It received nearly four million international visitors in 2019 Official data.
After the country imposed travel restrictions in March 2020, tourism fell dramatically from previous levels, with only around 200,000 international visitors arriving a year later. In 2022, according to data provided by the government, there were only about 1.4 million visitors, significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels.
That’s why events like the Women’s World Cup are so important.
Cities such as Wellington and Auckland offer World Cup tourists free public transport on game days for anyone with a match ticket. Although there are reports of local transport systems being overwhelmed by increased demand, free access makes it easier for visitors to explore the various cities beyond attending the games.
In response to increased demand, Air New Zealand
(ANZFF)The airline’s domestic general manager, Ian Walker, said the airline had added 6,000 extra seats, particularly focused around the Games’ host cities of Dunedin, Hamilton, Wellington and Auckland.
In communities where rugby and cricket are more popular than soccer, restaurants and bars take on a competitive spirit.
Located in Wellington, minutes away from the city’s FIFA fan base, Chow Dory has unveiled a menu of cocktails named after the 10 competing nations days before the US team plays in the city.
A whiskey-based smash for America, a colada for Costa Rica, a Spanish sangria, a Dutch apple pie spritz, a Swedish punch with Scandinavian liqueur agave, and an „old fashioned” from South Africa using Klipdrift brandy. Even himself and an Italy vs Japan Negroni.
While the latter two countries aren’t slated to play off each other, Negronis claim to bring them together using Roku gin, Campari and sweet vermouth stirred with sushi rice.
Both host nations are represented with a rosebud for New Zealand’s football ferns and a Bundaberg ginger-beer-based vodka drink called „Fun Fun Aussie Aussie Aussie”.
Other businesses also lean into the spirit of competition. Some of the players are taking action to explore what New Zealand has to offer.
A retail manager at a Wellington chocolate factory told CNN members of Sweden’s national team came for a tour and chocolate-making session while they were in town for the group stage games.
The chocolate shop had a soccer ball shaped mold and paper that looked like a soccer field that they gave out during the competition.
In the window, they have tied a ball provided by Wellington City Council, which contains soccer balls and the flags of the various countries participating in the tournament.
The extra effort has not gone unnoticed by tourists, especially those who have traveled to other World Cup events.
Compared to the last Women’s World Cup In France, more businesses are excited to welcome tourists, American fan Carly Andler said.
Antler, who attended the Games in Wellington and Auckland, added: „We felt the festive energy everywhere we went.”
„Całkowity introwertyk. Nieprzejednany specjalista od sieci. Przyjazny fanatyk bekonu. Student ekstremalnych. Miłośnik piwa. Organizator.”