Football: Women's World Cup poised to cash in on post-coronavirus tourism boom

Fans will come from all over the globe to attend the Women's Football World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, and promoting the world's biggest sporting event started Friday. 

The backdrop - Eden Park. 

The players - the Football Ferns. 

The hype man - Sports Minister Grant Robertson.

"It ranks up there as probably one of the largest sporting events New Zealand will ever host," says Robertson. 

The Government will give $25 million towards costs, but how much can we expect to gain from it? 

"It's very hard to say, particularly because of the effect of COVID-19 on international travel," says Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford 

Robertson is more effusive.

"Regardless of that, the exposure for New Zealand from a tournament like this is massive," he insists. 

"Over a billion people watched the Women's World Cup in France last year - that's more people that watched the Rugby World Cup in Japan." 

Told you Robertson was the hype man. 

Problem is, exposure to an overseas TV audience isn't so valuable if they're not then going to travel here, but economists say 2023 might be perfect timing. 

"One would expect the restrictions on travelling to be reduced at that time," says Infometrics forecaster Gareth Kiernan. "There might even be a bit of pent-up demand that New Zealand could really benefit from lifting its profile at that point in time." 

Going off last year's Women's World Cup in France, the event could attract up to 1.5 million travelling fans. 

"The economic impact's really big - around the $180 million vicinity," says NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell. 

"Just by way of example, the US women's team have a fanbase of about 30 thousand that travel with them, so really, really exciting." 

Event operators globally are exchanging information about how to deliver events safely and New Zealand will learn from running the women's rugby and cricket World Cups here, before we get to the larger FIFA tournament. 

"How we control and track people as they're coming into venues is going to be critical," says ATEED destinations general manager Steve Armitage. "There's some technology that's being worked on at the moment to enable us to do that." 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was calling FIFA council representatives before the announcement, but reports suggest not everyone wanted to talk, with the English Football Association chairman apparently refusing to answer. 

"Obviously, we were working the phones to make sure we were putting New Zealand in the best possible position," she says. "Obviously we succeeded." 

The call for fans to visit in 2023 matters now.