ASB Classic: Economic spin-offs from the tennis court puts bounce in Auckland's economy

Auckland is hoping for a windfall from tourists attending New Zealand's premier women's tennis tournament.

2024's dream draw has some of the game's biggest names playing here, attracting foreign visitors.

Women's world No.3 Coco Gauff posted leaping off the Sky Tower in her downtime on Instagram.

Off-court the ASB Classic's sporting stars are taking in the Auckland attractions, showcasing the city to the millions who follow their social media feeds.

Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki treated her kids to a private visit to Auckland Zoo.

"We get to explore some different things in New Zealand that I wouldn't have done otherwise," Wozniacki said.

And it's the same for those here to watch the game.

British tourists Peter and Jo Anderson arrived in Auckland last week. They're two of around 18,000 tennis tourists spending up in Tāmaki Makaurau.

"We've done the Sky Tower, that was lovely. This morning we walked down to the harbour and had something to eat," Jo said.

Visitors to the ASB Classic in 2023 generated $3.5 million for Auckland's economy, with up to 25 percent of tickets sold to people outside of the city.

The 2024 event is estimated to bring in 17,600 visitor nights and boost Auckland's GDP by approximately $3.6 million. Final figures won't be known until the event evaluation is complete.

Social media posts like Gauff's and British tennis star Emma Raducanu's not only help to raise Auckland's profile overseas, but also the city's gross domestic product.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited chipped in $450,000 to help secure the big names to this year's tournament.

But the Women's Tennis Association's rule changes, where a certain number of players ranked in the world's top 30 will be allowed to compete in Auckland, means it might be a harder sell to get fans to the Classic in 2025.

"Everything is always changing. The last four years have been a challenge so we need to adapt, but it calls into question where does the funding come from?" asked Tātaki Auckland Unlimited's director of arts, entertainment and events, Richard Clarke.

Last year's extreme rainfall and severe flooding dampened down tourist numbers. Forecasts already predict the better weather will increase visitor numbers in Auckland when the final numbers are revealed.

The flow-on effects to Auckland's hospitality and tourism sectors are welcomed too, something the big names here for the game are already sampling for themselves.

"Auckland is one of the best venues and sights on tour. Honestly, I love it here. The food here is great, the weather when it's on is really, really nice. It's beautiful," said 2021 US Open champion, Emma Raducanu.

The City of Sails hopes that star power translates into more successful events in the future.