We’ll be Little Britain

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UK diplomat predicts Poms will flock to resort during World Cup.

A top British diplomat reckons Queenstown will still be a 2011 Rugby World Cup winner despite losing out on attracting any games.

Mountain Scene revealed last month that Queenstown Lakes District Council is making a $150,000 pitch for team-hosting rights during the money-spinning event.

With teams from Pool B playing matches in Christchurch, Dun­­­edin and Invercargill, Ar­gentina and the big-ticket pairing of England and Scotland, with their armies of supporters, seem logical candidates to be targeted.

And on a whirlwind trip to the resort last week, British High Commissioner George Fergusson gave Queenstown the nod as a top destination for fans.

He believes large numbers of rugby supporters travelling from the UK will simply choose to base themselves in the resort anyway.

“Once fans coming from Britain get as far as Auckland, never mind Christchurch or Dunedin, they’re not going to stop there,” Fergusson says.

“Queenstown is the sort of place [where] they’ll want to be as everything is here for them and it wouldn’t be a big deal to fly or drive to the games elsewhere.”

He continues: “We are still getting the backwash of goodwill that was produced during the Lions’ tour in 2005.

“The visiting fans had a great time and left a good impression. I would expect the Rugby World Cup to enhance the already good relationship between New Zealand and Britain as well as being good for the local economy.”

Wellington-based Fergusson – whose father Sir Bernard Fergus­son was Governor-General of NZ from 1962-67 – also paid tribute to Queenstown police.

He dropped into the station to thank cops for their ongoing help and co-operation in dealing with British people who have found themselves in bother while here.

“A large proportion of the British who visit New Zealand spend some time in Queenstown, so it’s no surprise that a few problems can crop up and they get in touch with my office,” Fergusson says.

“Because of the number of tourists, Queenstown is the sort of place where people can either find themselves in trouble or get themselves into trouble and of course, from time to time, accidents and tragedies can occur.”

Fergusson adds: “Police say that, regrettably, alcohol plays a big part in the numbers of British who do get themselves into difficulties with the authorities.

“I like to point out that I don’t have a ‘get-out-of-jail card’ and anyone visiting another country has to abide by the laws.”