New Zealand’s economy will be a boosted by as much as $1.2 billion (£756 million) in the long term as a result of hosting the Rugby World Cup, according to a new study.


Rugby-related spending by overseas visitors is expected to total $654 million during the event, the report by MasterCard found. The New Zealand economy will also benefit from increased business activity and tourism.


An estimated 95,000 international fans are expected to flock to the country during the tournament which started last Thursday. “In terms of economic impact, the most important component is international visitors as they contribute money to the economy that would not have otherwise been spent in New Zealand,” the report said.


The biggest effect will be on sports-related economic activities which could increase to $11.7 billion by the end of the decade providing that New Zealand capitalises on the hosting of the World Cup to attract more similar events to the country.


It will also need to enhance its reputation as a destination for sports tourism and continue domestic involvement in sports related activities. New Zealand has been picked as the host of the 2015 FIFA Under-20 world cup and also as a stopover port for the Volvo Ocean race in 2012.


When New Zealand hosted the America’s Cup in 2000, it generated almost $75.3 million in brand value for the country, the report calculated. “The size, scale and appeal of the Rugby World Cup could mean that this figure will be eclipsed,” the report said.


MasterCard expects the tournament, which runs through to the final on October 23 in Auckland, to generate a brand value of as much as $209 million for the country. “This creates a huge opportunity to present New Zealand as a destination,” it said.