New Zealand Currency Soars Ahead of Rugby World Cup 2011

September 5, 2011

New Zealand’s soaring currency is disparaging efforts to revive an industry still reeling from the 2009 global recession and the deadliest earthquake in eight decades even though the Rugby World Cup is on the horizon.

Instead of the rugby arenas there are snow-capped mountains, cough glaciers and fiords the backdrop to the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy and the birthplace of bungee jumping that the tourism officials want fans to experience to help bolster future visits and spending.

The kiwi “at these elevated levels does have the effect of making New Zealand less attractive than some other potential destinations,” Rob Fyfe, chief executive officer of Air New Zealand Ltd (AIR), the nation’s largest carrier, said Aug. 25, after announcing full-year profit slumped 45 percent because of currency, fuel and quake costs.

The airline, which has painted an Airbus A320 domestic jetliner to match the colors of the host nation’s All Blacks team, will offer cheaper prices outside of game days to cater to tourists who may want to see more of the country. “We’ve never had a better chance to showcase our country on the world stage in recent times,” Fyfe said in an interview.

Spending by international visitors has fallen 10 percent to NZ$5.56 billion ($4.7 billion) in the year ended June 30 from a record NZ$6.18 billion ($5.18bn) three years earlier, according to government figures.