Please don't rip off RWC visitors: McCully

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully has written to the Hotel Association asking it to persuade its members not to risk damaging New Zealand's tourism reputation by over-charging for accommodation during the rugby World Cup.

The event is still well over a year away but there have been reports of accommodation providers in Auckland ramping prices up several hundred percent above usual rates and adding long minimum-stay provisions.

The situation has led to complaints from some Australian tour operators who claim fans are considering flying into New Zealand for matches and then heading straight home again to avoid being ripped off. However, there have also been reports of those operators "clipping the ticket" to significant levels when booking accommodation for clients.

Mr McCully said today the issue had been discussed for some time between RWC organisers and the accommodation industry.

"In fact I have written to the Hotel Association today, having discussed it with their executives in the last few days that this is going to be an exceptional time for New Zealand, we will have a large number of visitors here and so while there is a chance to charge a premium we need to balance that against the reputation for being a welcoming destination and a good place for tourists to come," he said.

Mr McCully said he believed most people would take the concerns into account. "But there will be one or two who need to be persuaded and that is why I have written to them".

He said it was not acceptable for anyone to rort the system and some were being asked to "understand the difference between charging a premium and doing something that is extortionate and harmful to New Zealand's reputation from a tourism point of view".

The Hotel Association was being helpful in communicating the message, but that message didn't always reach those outside that network.

"This is a big opportunity, it's a chance for us all to do some good business. But we need to understand we are in the business for the long-haul and that means finding a right balance."

Rugby World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden said last month that prices being charged in what would be a peak time were generally reasonable, and organisers were confident that the free market would lead to those overcharging having to reduce their prices or face the prospect of empty beds during the tournament.




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