Despite suffering from a severe case of America’s Cup withdrawal, Aaron Tunstall is already excited about the next one.
I have spent the last couple of months suffering from America’s Cup withdrawal – it’s a hell of a high to come down from. Watching the action, seeing New Zealanders all get together behind the team, and experiencing a real-life underdog story that captured everyone’s imaginations. We tend to use the word innovation far too liberally, but Emirates Team New Zealand showed that genuine innovation can propel our tiny nation to punch above our weight – and our budget. When our team lifted that cup above their heads it was like the end of a great movie: I was so thrilled with the finale but at the same time there was a sense of sadness that the spectacle was over.
The great news is that next time we watch the America’s Cup, it won’t be at five in the morning, gradually waking up in front of the screen, surrounded by the rest of the Impression team. It will be here in Auckland, down at the Viaduct, and with any luck we’ll be able to get the staff members all out on water to see the racing first-hand.
What will the Cup do for Auckland? I’ve been asked that question many times in recent weeks and I always say that it will be fantastic. I can say that with confidence because we’ve seen the direct impact that the British and Irish Lions tour has had on the city. Each time they play here, 20,000 international visitors arrive in the city. Like the Lions rugby tour the Americas cup will bring international visitors in their thousands to Auckland, plus around 80 people directly attached to each of the teams, and then you can add on the local fans who make the trip to the super city.
If you own an apartment in the Auckland CBD you are ideally positioned to help accommodate the many people who will be converging on the city in three or four years’ time. Vacancy rates in central apartments are already low and have been low for some time. Although new apartment buildings are being constructed, even as they become available they are not putting any downward pressure on prices, occupancy rates or rents. I believe prices, occupancy and rents will all continue to climb steadily, albeit slowly at first, in the lead-up to the Cup.
Because Impression also has a number of short-term rental clients, we’ve seen incredible surge pricing around international events like the Lions tour: nightly rates have boomed to around 300% of their usual price, and the America’s Cup may see even more of a premium. Those operating short-term rentals in other major cities are also likely to see demand – if someone’s travelled all the way from Europe or North America to New Zealand, they’ll often want to make a real trip of it. Just as Kiwis spend at least a month in Europe, often moving around the major cities, I think we can expect to see something similar from the tourists who arrive here. Those who sail will be moving down the coast, while those who arrive by air will probably hit other major cities and tourist centres.
I see the regatta increasing the pressure on both short- and long-term accommodation while it’s on, and it will also help to support Auckland’s efforts to become a world-class city. The facilities and infrastructure that is put in place to support the America’s Cup will remain here permanently for locals and visitors to enjoy. And what an advertisement for our country: I’ve had a serious hankering to visit Bermuda for the past six weeks, so I imagine a regatta in New Zealand will only do good things for our international image as a tourist destination.
I know there are downsides (more people, more traffic, more road works) but I’m choosing to focus on the positive and believe that not only is this going to be fantastic, but we’re going to retain the Cup for another event after that.