25 November 2008

Queen to meet All Blacks in giant rugby ball

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The Queen is to meet the New Zealand All Blacks in a giant inflatable rugby ball near Tower Bridge in London, reports The Press Association. After huge success at the Rugby World Cup in France last year, Tourism New Zealand is again using the giant ball to promote New Zealand tourism in the UK.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will have a 'virtual tour' of New Zealand inside the ball, which will use a 10-minute video to display the spectacular scenery and attractions New Zealand has to offer.

The ball is 25 metres long and can accommodate 230 people, and will be used to draw the 2011 Rugby World Cup draw as well as use multimedia to exhibit the best of New Zealand, including sports, breathtaking scenery, arts and culture.  Sound and light displays will take visitors on a virtual tour to New Zealand environments, from rugby games, to the depths of the ocean, beaches, volcanoes and bush walks.  Visitors will also be able to experience New Zealand ’s Maori culture, with Maori performing arts company Manaia’s daily performances at the Rugby Ball continuing throughout the week.

According to Stuff.co.nz, the All Blacks will spend three quarters of an hour with the royals, as well as other high profile guests.  There were suggestions the All Blacks perform their famous Haka to welcome the Queen to the ball; however, it has been confirmed organisers are planning for a Maori welcome instead.

The UK is traditionally New Zealand's largest source of tourism, after Australia; however, in response to the UK recession fears, the numbers of British travellers in New Zealand has dropped over the past three months by 3 per cent, and August numbers were almost 10 per cent lower than the same month last year, reports Stuff.co.nz.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton said British are still holidaying but are choosing short-haul destinations, rather than their preferred long-haul destinations such as New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Hickton said there is clearly still a strong interest in New Zealand for British residents, despite the economic condition, but that it would more likely be older tourists on a New Zealand Visitor Visa rather than younger travellers on a New Zealand working holiday visa that will be able to afford travel to New Zealand over the next few months.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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