Waiheke prepares for Rugby World Cup
Islanders are preparing for a bumper spring next year as Rugby World Cup organisers and tourism operators get busy on the isthmus.
Holiday accommodation providers on Waiheke are already reporting increasing enquiries from visitors to the Rugby World Cup and from homeowners interested in renting out their properties.
Ferry companies, though, say they have yet to firm up plans over any extra sailings or special deals for rugby fans wanting to stay on the island.
Fullers Ferries spokeswoman Lucy Farrington says the company is currently in discussions with Auckland Regional Transport about additional ferries during September and October 2011.
She says Fullers is also trying to determine the demand for extra late night services to the island and hopes to make an announcement during the next few weeks.
SeaLink plans to work with accommodation partners to offer packages over the cup period but, like Fullers, is not yet able to confirm any additional sailings.
SeaLink general manager Donna Gauci says the company will look at the potential returns, and it has already attended all of Tourism Auckland's workshops to keep up to date with opportunities.
"This is a great opportunity for Waiheke Island to be exposed to the international travel market and we will ensure we support and maximise opportunities as they come available."
Waiheke Shipping's Brett Subritzky has confirmed his company will be running services at special prices, offering travellers from Auckland sailings to the island at $100 return per car and four passengers.
He says extra sailings will be subject to demand over the cup period.
Bayleys' Waiheke holiday lettings manager Tracey Collins says water taxis could be another option.
She says she is already getting enquiries from rugby fans here and abroad about accommodation on the island as well as from homeowners.
Ms Collins says recent stories in the press about high room rates should not cause alarm, with the homeowners she deals with working together to set reasonable prices.
"People staying here will know they've got good value for money as well as an island paradise to enjoy."
She believes a lot of cup fans staying in Auckland will also be visiting the island to enjoy their days when there are no matches.
Island event company Let Me Out is looking to unite tourism, accommodation and hospitality businesses in a bid to offer visitors attractions they cannot ignore.
The company's Delyth Morghan-Coghlan sees a huge opportunity for islanders to get together and ensure they make the most of next year's flood of tourists.
She is urging business owners to join group Team Waiheke on the Linkedin social networking site to enable a co-ordinated planning approach.
Ms Morghan-Coghlan is planning a 36-page brochure that could include details of home-stay accommodation.
She wants to highlight special events that will make Waiheke a "must-do", and details that will encourage rugby fans to use the island as a base for their stay.
She says it would not compete with Tourism Auckland brochures or the existing Waiheke brochure as the focus would be on a more comprehensive island guide.
Ms Morghan-Coghlan says she is keen to find out what happens over sailings for people to get back after matches but is hopeful of the outcome of discussions.
She claims there will not be enough beds in Auckland and rugby cup officials could well have to look to places such as Waiheke for help.
Meanwhile, she dismisses claims in the press about bumped up rates at a B&B in Auckland for cup visitors.
She says the quoted costs of $1,600 per night by media would have included the price of the match ticket package and around 25 percent in commission charged by the cup's official accommodation agency.
An Auckland Tourism spokeswoman says the market will help determine pricing but cautions providers that "reckless" prices could drive business away.
"Tourism Auckland is assisting with accommodation enquiries for the cup through its usual methods. Waiheke accommodation is most certainly included in this."