World Cup tickets selling despite venue uncertainty

Uncertainty over which Dunedin venue will host Rugby World Cup 2011 matches has not hampered tournament ticket applications, chief executive Martin Snedden said yesterday.

Addressing more than than 50 domestic and international journalists at the Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand conference in Auckland, Mr Snedden said the stadium would be "spectacular".

Asked by the Otago Daily Times if having Carisbrook as a back-up in case the new stadium was not completed on time had affected ticket applications, Mr Snedden said that appeared not to be the case: "It has been pretty solid."

While the tight timeframe of the stadium was causing a few "headaches" with World Cup organisers, the capacity of both venues was similar, Mr Snedden said yesterday.

"People from Otago are wanting to see some confidence that it will be finished on time."

Mr Snedden said there were fewer than 470 days or "67 Mondays" until the tournament began and organisers were confident of delivering a world-class event.

Organisers were under "extreme pressure" from the Government to run a successful tournament.

Tourism infrastructure would only be tested in the last three weeks of the tournament, but the arrival of three cruise ships, with a capacity to accommodate 5000 passengers, would help alleviate any accommodation shortages, he said.

Ticket packages were proving popular with overseas and domestic rugby fans, with sales surpassing previous tournaments in France and Australia, Rugby Travel and Hospitality operations director David White said.

Rugby World Cup 2011 festival director Briony Ellis said organisers were also working on delivering a national festival in the lead-up to the tournament.

The programme would eventually include 1000 events, with more than 100 already confirmed in the Southern region, including Last Night of the Proms in Dunedin, Waitaki Golden Oldies rugby festival, Dunedin Rhododendron Festival and a Bluff Oyster Season Reprise.

There would also be "thematically linked" trails throughout the country, with one potential trail taking in restaurant Fleur's Place in Moeraki, Ms Ellis said.

Details of the festival would be officially launched on September 9.



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