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LONDON-Research by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels into the experience of Rugby World Cup 1999 has revealed that the likely impact of the RWC 2003 for Australian hotel markets will be a sharp escalation of room rates.

‘This is the trend we saw during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. However, unlike the Olympics, there is no ceiling on the rates hotel operators can charge during the Rugby World Cup,’ said David Gibson, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

During the RWC 1999, Cardiff was the venue for five games during October and the two finals during November, while Edinburgh and London hosted six games throughout October. The Cardiff hotel market benefited from its role as the major host city, with hotel room rates increasing by 31.2% and 21.4% for the months of October and November.

‘Although Cardiff is smaller than most Australian hotel markets, the other larger hotel markets of Edinburgh and London also reaped the benefits of the event.’ Revenue per available room (RevPAR) increased by 10.5% for both London and Edinburgh during October. ‘This bodes well for all venues announced as hosts for 2003,’ said Gibson.

The 48 Australian RWC games will be played in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and regional centres. The location of the regional games will be hotly contested, as it represents an opportunity for a relatively undeveloped destination to achieve valuable exposure. For instance, the consensus was that European Cup in June 2000 impacted more on the secondary destination of Rotterdam than the established destination of Amsterdam. ‘That said, it will be major venues such as Sydney that will benefit from being the touring base for fans,’ said Gibson.

Given the popularity of the game in New Zealand, the UK, France and South Africa, it is likely that a large proportion of tourists arriving for the RWC will be sourced from these countries. ‘As Australia is considered a long haul destination to most of these markets, they are generally characterised by a longer stay and greater average expenditure per visitor, which is good news for the tourism industry,’ said Gibson.

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