74% of Kiwi businesses point to sporting events to lure investments

New Zealand business leaders see major sporting events as an integral means of attracting investment to the country, according to new research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR).

A convincing 74% of Kiwi businesses surveyed point to sporting events as a vehicle to lure investment here – 46% said it was important, 28% said it was very important.

Profiling the country through television audiences and visitors from overseas for a major sporting event provides the opportunity and exposure for investment.

Tim Keenan, national director of privately held business at Grant Thornton New Zealand, said the research could vindicate the idea of New Zealand hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, with a rebuilt Christchurch city hosting the opening and closing events.

“A big part of winning the race to host big international sporting events is convincing the public and businesses that the economic benefits will outweigh the obvious hosting costs – the infrastructural investment and benefits to the Christchurch rebuild are infinitely clear.

“Obviously one of the major reasons New Zealand businesses are so bullish is that they’ve experienced the benefits of big sporting events first hand when we hosted the successful Rugby World Cup 2011 last year.”

Keenan said it was well known that a home advantage could improve the medal haul from major sporting competitions but the IBR research shows that an additional spinoff would be the attraction of overseas investment in businesses creating export opportunities to new markets.

“Holding a major sporting event gives the host country a global shop window, allowing it to present and market what it has to offer to a massive worldwide audience. These major events provide significant opportunity for global corporates to host their clients and their key employees and with this comes the opportunity for the local economy to profile their wares.”

In 2015 New Zealand jointly hosts the ICC Cricket World Cup with Australia, providing a similar opportunity (on a smaller scale) to that of the Rugby World Cup. The IBR research indicates a willingness  from New Zealand’s business community to take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase its innovation and products to the world. Keenan said the key to harnessing this opportunity is the interaction and collaboration between the business community and tournament organisers.

Martin Snedden, chief executive of the Tourism Industry Association NZ and CEO of the Rugby World Cup 2011, agreed that major sporting events could be a key incentive for investment in countries  such as New Zealand.

“Our research indicates that there were hundreds of opportunities created by and for businesses throughout New Zealand, opportunities that were fuelled by the platform provided by the hosting of the Rugby World Cup.”

“As a country, we need to selectively pursue hosting major sporting events to help keep us top of mind on international markets,” Snedden said.

The research also indicates that business leaders in those economies which have recently held, or are soon to hold, major sporting events are more bullish about the investment they bring (the exception is China, where the legacy of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing remains  unclear).

Business leaders in Brazil – which is gearing up to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games – show the greatest faith in sport’s ability to deliver investment (83%). Business leaders in Poland (82%) – host of this year’s European Championships – and South Africa (78%) –  FIFA World Cup 2010 are also positive in this regard.

The findings signal that more established economies, international sporting competitions are still a great opportunity, but appear to be just one element of a much bigger offensive to attract investment.

Meanwhile, New Zealand businesses appear to have a generous attitude to their employees during the Olympics, which start in London tomorrow (July 27). Sixty four per cent say they will either allow staff to view the Olympics on line or are providing them with extra time to either attend or watch the Games, while 24% are providing television coverage in the workplace. Slightly more than half the respondent businesses were involved in some facet of sport – including corporate hospitality, sponsorship, and team building.

Further enquiries, please contact:

Tim Keenan
M +64 (0)21 670 323
E tim.keenan@nz.gt.com