Auckland set for Rugby World Cup

VISITORS to Auckland for the Rugby World Cup 2011 may end up dossing down on someone's couch - but there will be a bed for everyone.

The strong assurances from Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden resound throughout the hospitality industry, which remains confident visitors here will have a roof over their heads.

Hotels, motels and other accommodation providers have been waiting to find out just how busy they will be because their booking systems don't allow reservations more than a year in advance.

And because it will be six weeks or more before some fans know if they have secured tickets to matches, there remains a large fan base who don't know if they even need to be in New Zealand come Cup time.

Industry insiders say it will be late October before bookings start picking up pace. Is Auckland ready? Yes, says Snedden, but travellers may have to go for plan B or even plan C if they want flash hotel rooms.

"We're not going to satisfy demand if all the people are after is the best hotel rooms - we'll satisfy demand if they're looking for a bed and will let us point them in the right direction."

Snedden says a "landing page" website launched on September 2 and linked to the Tourism NZ and Rugby World Cup sites has been set up to help visitors find beds.

Tourism Auckland chief Graeme Osborne is expecting Auckland to be full for the semifinals and final but says there is plenty of room during the rest of the tournament. "We are monitoring the accommodation gaps so that we can help people who have got accommodation problems."

Sue Robinson of accommodation website www.80minutegame.com has been busy matching tenants with rental properties. "We believe we still need more homes but we don't know at this stage to what degree."

New Zealand Hotel Council chairwoman Jennie Langley is also confident Auckland will have enough beds. "Even if it comes down to people sleeping on couches, there's a huge selection from the hotels to the B&Bs to the cruise ships, to people offering up their homes. We're streaks ahead of where most countries are for this type of event."

Kate Meldrum, general manager of Tourism Holdings, which owns Maui, Britz and Backpacker Campervans, says there are also plenty of campervans. "It is just a big February," she says of visitor expectations for the RWC.

Asked if the city has enough room nights, she says: "In one way, yes, but I hope they are sold out."

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