9 Jul 2017

Lions tour investment 'well worth it'

2:52 pm on 9 July 2017

Auckland's publicans will be laughing all the way to the bank today, with one industry group saying the British and Irish Lions tour is as big an event as has ever been seen in this country.

Lions fans and supporters at the final whistle as the Lions beat the All Blacks 24-21 in the second Test match.

Lions fans during one of the Test matches. Photo: Photosport NZ

Last night's 15-15 draw at Eden Park concluded the test series with honours even at one match apiece - but the tour is being hailed as a success by critics, businesses, and politicians alike.

In total, about 20,000 international visitors made the trip to New Zealand for the series - and the matches were broadcast to about 200 million people worldwide.

Just over 340,000 people attended one or more of the Lions games on the 10-match tour.

New Zealand Rugby Chief executive Steve Tew said the tour's success had put to bed any question over whether Lions' series should continue.

He said people around the country went out of their way to create a marvellous atmosphere and welcome the Lions supporters.

Mr Tew said final details about the economic benefits of the tour were still being calculated, but Hospitality New Zealand's Auckland President Russell Grey said the sector had reaped the rewards of diligent preparation.

"This is the time where all those operators out there get together, build the numbers of staff, focus on running good, well supervised premises and end up nailing it in terms of a pretty good economic return for everybody."

The government courted controversy when it allocated $3 million from its Major Events Development Fund to ensure the tour could go ahead.

But Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said the tour's success vindicated that decision.

"We're getting about $4 benefit from every dollar that we invest in it. So it's well worth it."

Mr Bridges said he would expect widespread support for another Lions tour in 12 years time.

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