New Zealand has celebrated a record year for international conference business, exceeding its 2015/16 target of 60 conference bids with 71 international bids and a 72 per cent success rate.
Tourism New Zealand marked the success with an evening function recognising 22 of the experts from across New Zealand who have helped bring around 15,000 international business delegates to the country, contributing an estimated $31 million to the New Zealand economy. The estimated value from all conferences bid for and won in the last financial year is $96.3 million.
Lisa Gardiner, Business Events and Premium Manager Tourism New Zealand, says: “These are a diverse range of people from university academics to health sector professionals who have worked with us to champion their field of expertise on the global stage and attract major conferences to New Zealand. It’s great to be able to recognise their efforts and encourage others to take up the mantle and help us attract even more international conferences to our shores.”
Tourism New Zealand actively started targeting the business events market in 2012, bidding for seven international conferences and winning five. It particularly targets international events in sectors where New Zealand excels, such as the marine industries, agribusiness, health science and high-value foods.
New Zealand has now set its sights on 80 international conference bids in the 2016/17 year, its most ambitious target yet. Since June, the team has already confirmed 20 events, which are expected to bring 12,800 delegates to New Zealand and deliver an estimated $26.5m to the New Zealand economy.
Gardiner adds: “It has been our most successful year to date and with new major conference centres coming on board in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch we are expecting to see even more growth. New Zealand is already recognised for its superb service and support, world-leading knowledge hubs, natural beauty and amazing array of activities. New and existing conference facilities alongside increased air capacity and favourable economic conditions have tipped the scale in our favour.”
A number of initiatives put in place to increase New Zealand’s appeal in the business events sector have already proved fruitful. These include Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme, which provides strategic funding and marketing support to assist in bringing events of 200 or more international delegates to New Zealand; and a new Business Events Visa programme, aiding access for delegates from the key markets of China, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
Professor Phil Bishop, Director – Ecology Degree Programme at Otago University, was one of those thanked for helping win a conference that will attract around 1,000 delegates to New Zealand.
He says: “Winning the bid to host the 9th World Congress of Herpetology, over countries like Australia, Kenya and Hungary, was a fantastic triumph not just for New Zealand, but more specifically for Dunedin and the University of Otago. In 2020 New Zealand will be visited by the top biologists in the world who specialise on amphibians and reptiles. The support I received from Tourism New Zealand and Enterprise Dunedin, both financially and logistically, took all the hard work out of preparing the bid and together we produced highly professional brochures and an amazing presentation which blew away the competition!”