Cup organisers confident

One hundred days from the kick-off of the Rugby World Cup, organisers say they are on track with tournament preparations.

Travel companies handling accommodation for teams and fans had sourced hotel rooms as far afield as Queenstown, Oamaru and Gore on Dunedin match days, Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said.

He emphasised accommodation was still available in the city, and the squeeze on hotel rooms might ease slightly when more rooms were released from the official bed-bank.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive David Davies said the building of Forsyth Barr Stadium was going to plan and it was set to be handed over at the end of July.

A recruitment drive starts today, with 500 to 700 people needed for jobs such as security, catering and cleaning during big games.

Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden said all programmes were "about 90% there".

"Take Otago stadium, for example. There is a little bit more work to be done to get it up to the stage contractors can hand it over to David Davies and his group. Then it will be a bit of a crash course to go through, and getting used to how the stadium works," Mr Snedden said.

Inevitably, tickets and the sale of them had become a focus, and Mr Snedden said they were in a terrific position until the Christchurch earthquake in February "knocked us backwards".

About half the tickets had been sold nationwide and there would be a big push when tickets went on general sale next month.

New initiatives such as the adopt-a-second-team campaign, a national road show and educational booklet to schools were due to be announced today.

Mr Snedden said there was always going to be a strain over accommodation and "overall, the sense is New Zealand has been in a volatile situation because of the earthquake and the recession".

"But come to start time, it will give us a good lift. People will get into the spirit of the event and get in behind it."

Otago Rugby Football Union had employed event co-ordinator Merrin Bath as the union's Rugby World Cup co-ordinator to cope with the extra workload.

Dunedin City Council Rugby World Cup co-ordinator Debra Simes said the council's transport and traffic management plan was in its final stages, and would include suburban train services.

The council was still working to ensure there were enough licensed premises for the increased visitor numbers, and the Dunedin Town Hall was one option.

In addition, World Cup banners would go up around the city from August, there were plans for more streets to be cleaned and rubbish removed and extra city-safety officers would be pounding pavements on match days.

Temporary visitor information centres at the lower Octagon, railway station and possibly George St would also be established.

"There is a lot to do but everything is falling into place."

 

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