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Exhibitions and Events Big Wins for Auckland Economy

News: 17 April 2013

Figures released today show the cultural tourism sector is pulling its weight in the Auckland economy.

Exterior of Auckland Art Gallery.

The figures from the Auckland Council agency, Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), highlight the significant contribution of recent major exhibitions and entertainment events to the Auckland visitor economy.

• 50% of Auckland Art Gallery patrons are visitors to the Auckland, generating $49.5m in tourism spend
• Auckland War Memorial Museum attracts 850,000 visitors, 34% from outside the region
Degas to Dali at Auckland Art Gallery attracts 100,000 attendees, 40% visitors to the city, 80% staying overnight
• 54% of 53,000 visitors to Who Shot Rock and Roll from outside the region (33% from overseas)
• 35% of tickets for both Jersey Boys and Mary Poppins sold to people from outside Auckland
Mary Poppins generates $12.93 million in tourism spend
• Coldplay concert at Mt Smart brought $3.7m in economic benefits and 25,000 visitor nights

RFA Chair Sir Don McKinnon says there is a significant shift towards cultural tourism worldwide and that has been reflected here in Auckland.

In the 2011/12 financial year for example, 50 percent of visitors to Auckland Art Gallery were visitors to the city, generating $49.5m in tourism spend. In the same period, Auckland War Memorial Museum attracted 850,000 visitors, 34 per cent from outside the region.

Mayor Len Brown has welcomed the findings saying they confirm the growing role of the sector in the development of Auckland as a significant domestic and international tourism destination.

“The social and cultural contributions of the city’s arts and entertainment sectors are well understood. Perhaps less well documented are the significant economic contribution they make and the strategic role they play in positioning Auckland as a world-class destination.”

International exhibitions

Auckland Art Gallery’s first major international exhibition since reopening last year was Degas to Dali: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland. During its 13-week season, it attracted close to 100,000 attendees, 40% of whom were visitors to the city, with 80% of those visitors staying overnight.

Independent research conducted by Morris, Hargreaves and McIntyre (MHM) shows that Degas to Dali made a direct economic contribution to the city of $2,798,230 in tourist spend.

The gallery’s recent international photographic exhibition Who Shot Rock and Roll also proved a tourist draw card, with 54% of the 53,000 visitors coming from outside the region (33% from overseas).

The gallery is currently developing a forward programme of touring ‘blockbuster’ international exhibitions. With the appropriate financial backing and partner support to drive the promotion and presentation of world-class exhibitions the city can confidently expect to realise the economic, social and tourism benefits that major exhibitions of this nature generate.

Unlike international musicals and concerts where the financial risks are mostly borne by the promoters, significant regional investment is required to bring an international art exhibition to Auckland. However, a major art exhibition which is well researched and marketed can create significant gain for Auckland.

International concerts and shows

The catalyst role international concerts and commercial entertainment play in driving visitation, and thereby economic benefit, is demonstrated by the recent successes of the musicals Jersey Boys and Mary Poppins, and the sell-out Coldplay concert (all of which also received investment from ATEED, Auckland’s tourism and economic development agency).

Thirty-five percent of tickets for both Jersey Boys and Mary Poppins were sold to people from outside the Auckland region, generating significant pre- and post-event tourist spend.

Economic modelling undertaken by ATEED with independent partner Covec shows that Mary Poppins generated 69,138 visitor nights and tourism spend of $12.93 million over the ten-week season.

The single Coldplay concert at Mt Smart Stadium in November last year brought $3.7 million in economic benefits to the city and generated an estimated 25,000 extra visitor nights.

“Major cultural-based exhibitions and commercial entertainment have formed integral elements of successful tourism strategies in many international cities – including the Australian east coast cities”, Sir Don McKinnon said.

“Equally, world-class arts and entertainment also generate significant exposure and reputational benefits for the city. While such benefits may not have an immediate impact on economic activity, in the longer term they play a key role in driving awareness of Auckland as a place to live, work, visit and invest”.


Updated on 7th October 2019