Elton pays his way

Morgan (left) and Dave Saxton.
Morgan (left) and Dave Saxton.
Elton John's Dunedin concert pumped more money into the Otago economy than individual Rugby World Cup matches, Paymark figures reveal.

Figures released by the eftpos provider show during the weekend of the Elton John concert an extra $2 million was spent in the region, compared with the corresponding period the previous year.

Paymark processes around 75% of all New Zealand electronic transactions.

More than $22.3 million was spent in Otago between Friday, November 25 - the day of the concert - and November 27, up from the $20.3 million spent during the equivalent days in 2010.

The largest increase in spending was on the day after the concert, with spending up 13.3% - from $7 million in 2010 to $7.9 million.

A Paymark spokesman said any region would be pleased to record double-digit increases of 13.3% (November 26) and 11.8% (November 27), given the sluggish economy.

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the Paymark data supported what those in the visitor sector had told him, that the concert was a success.

"This is the value of events to the city and the stadium to the city. People will use events as a great excuse to come to Dunedin and explore the wider region.

"This is an outstanding result."

Data for the period of the Rugby World Cup showed the largest year-on-year percentage increase in spending for the Otago region was 8.2% (October 3), the day after the final game at Forsyth Barr Stadium, followed by an 8% increase the day after the opening match (September 11).

Figures released by Paymark showed more than $17.45 million was spent in Otago on the Saturday-Monday at the start of the tournament, an increase of $107,000 on the same period in 2010.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) chief executive David Davies said the figures indicated that the economic impact of a show, such as the Elton John concert, was greater than Rugby World Cup matches.

A researcher was compiling economic impact reports for DVML, and while they were not in a position to be released, the Paymark statistics supported their initial findings.

"This is really encouraging, but we need to be doing the same exercise after the next two or three shows, so we can answer with some strength some of the criticism that may have been laid at us over a myth of economic impact."

It would also be worth comparing the impact of the All Blacks v Springboks match (September 15 next year) to learn how large-scale rugby games compared with entertainment, he said.

"There could be a beginning of a strategy about event attraction, based on this kind of economic impact."

The success of the Elton John concert was persuasive, but "we need to get a history of this kind of data with these kinds of result to make it a compelling argument", Mr Davies said.

Results such as the Paymark data, would allow DVML to talk to other city partners about "how we go around attracting other events".

"The loss of Rod Stewart can be seen in its fullest sense...

"If we knew for three days it would pile $2 million back into the economy... someone, somewhere, would raise the question of whether giving someone assistance to bring an event here may not be such a bad return."

A Melbourne-based promoter, Michael Gudinski, had wanted to bring Stewart to play a midweek gig at the stadium next February, but negotiations broke down.

Mr Davies said when compared with sports events, venues earned more from shows, as gates opened for longer, more food and alcohol was consumed, and more merchandise sold.

In regard to the Elton John concert, most tickets, accommodation and flights were paid for in advance and would not be reflected in the statistics, he said.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz



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