Less than 500 Irish rugby supporters have booked to make the trip from Ireland to New Zealand on official tour packages for this year’s World Cup.
The figure is down seventy five per cent on the numbers that travelled to Australia for the 2003 tournament. The recession is being blamed for the lack of interest in the package deals being offered for the tournament. Estimates are showing that less than a thousand fans in total will make the journey for the World Cup.
Paddy Baird, managing director of Killester Travel, said the drop in those travelling is largely due to the increased prices being charged for accommodation:
“There was a much better value for hotels in Australia but we are still taking around 200 people – who see this as a trip of a lifetime. In 2003 at least 2,000 travelled to Australia (across all official travel agencies) for a three-week trip including two Pool games (against Argentina and Australia) and the quarter-finals at a cost of around €4,000.”
There have been a number of claims that some New Zealand accommodation and hospitality operators are increases their prices to exploit the situation:
“Some of the smaller operators are going, ‘Well, this is our opportunity, we’re going to take advantage here’,” IRB chief executive Mike Miller said. “There’s no legislation. You can’t stop them. The trade organisation really doesn’t have any sanctions against them except trying to get them to see it’s not in their interests or the country’s.
“For the most part things are fine, but there are some people taking advantage and it’s very disappointing.”