3 Jul 2011

Rugby organisers confident tickets will sell

11:15 am on 3 July 2011

Just under half of the tickets for the Rugby World Cup remain unsold, with two months to go until the start of the tournament.

About 900,000 of the 1.6 million tickets have been bought, leaving another 700,000 available.

Sales are still 25% less than the organisers' target of 1.35 million tickets for the 48 matches worth $285 million.

The Christchurch earthquake on 22 February has been a setback, with 130,000 tickets refunded because the city could no longer host matches.

Rugby World Cup 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Friday that thousands of tickets to pool matches in smaller centres have not yet sold.

However, Mr Snedden says there tends to be a late rush for those games and he is confident stadiums will not be empty.

For the 2003 World Cup in Australia, organisers managed to sell 600,000 seats with about 70 days to go, he says.

"They did 35% of their ticket sales from, effectively, what's Monday onwards. For us, that's a pretty good indicator."

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully says he is pleased with ticket sales so far - but there is still a lot of work to do.

Mr McCully says sales are well below target, but previous World Cup organisers had still needed to sell much more - 35% - by the same stage.

About half of the tickets from rescheduled Christchurch matches have been resold, he says.

The final round of ticket sales start on Monday.

Discounted packages ruled out

One of the country's main travel agencies has ruled out discounting any unsold Rugby World Cup packages close to the event.

House of Travel retail operations director Brent Thomas says packages will not be discounted as they were in Australia.

"We must remember the stadiums in New Zealand are of a much smaller scale and those matches are going to be full. So I don't think you're going to see the situation from 2003.''

Mr Thomas expects that demand will pick up in July, as New Zealanders are used to buying tickets closer to the time and the remaining packages will be taken up very quickly.

The tournament runs from 9 September to 23 October.