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Academics seize opportunity to put Wellington research on the world stage

April 5, 2019 Conferences No Comments Email Email

Wellington is tapping the knowledge of its top academics in a bid to bring the world’s leading conferences – and their lucrative attendees – to the city.

An event on the benefits of hosting international conferences was held at Victoria University of Wellington on February 20. Hosted by Professor Wendy Larner, Provost of Victoria University of Wellington, Tourism New Zealand and Business Events Wellington, it attracted 25 of the university’s academics interested in bringing conferences to the city.

It has already resulted in seven applications to Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme, with the intention of bidding for international conferences in Sign Language, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Virtual Reality and Information Systems. Combined, these represent a forecast economic benefit to the city of more than $4.5m.

There was also potential interest in bidding for other international events in Physics and Psychology.

The response shows that Wellington’s academics understand the benefits and prestige of hosting an international conference, according to Tourism New Zealand’s Global Business Events Manager, Anna Fennessy.

“Hosting an international conference delivers a range of benefits beyond the contributions their visitors provide to the local economy. They confirm our universities as centres of excellence in their field. They bring the world’s leading experts to New Zealand to share their knowledge, and they are an opportunity to showcase New Zealand expertise on the global stage.”

Tourism New Zealand provides strategic marketing and funding assistance for those wishing to hold an international conference with a minimum of 200 international delegates. This includes a financial feasibility study of the conference, the production of a bid document and marketing materials, and the costs of presenting the bid, including international travel.

Associate Professor Bing Xue from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Engineering and Computer Science spoke about her positive experience of bidding to host the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Evolutionary Computation. She had initially expected 400 delegates but following support the conference had already received around 800 registrations.

The business events market is currently worth around $240 million to the city and is among the most lucrative within Wellington’s tourism portfolio.

Wellington City Council’s recent decision to proceed with a new 18,000-square-metre Convention and Exhibition Centre will further enhance Wellington’s position as a leading conference destination.

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