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International convention spend worth $260 million

PRESS RELEASE

Friday 16 November 2001

International convention spend worth $260 million

International convention delegates and their partners pumped $260 million into the New Zealand economy over the last year.

This is highlighted in a recent report by Ernst & Young, which was commissioned by the New Zealand Convention Association (NZCA).

"That's more than a quarter of a billion dollars and is a significant input into the economy, and could be further increased if Auckland had a dedicated convention centre," says Alan Trotter, NZCA chief executive. "It's vital that we build one now if the country is to be a serious contender in the international meeting market.

"It's a very specialised market and if we don't have the right facilities the meetings just won't come, there's too much other competition out there. Just take Australia for example where every major city has its own dedicated convention centre - it really shows that Auckland is sorely lacking."

Mr Trotter says that on one hand our international conference arrivals are steadily rising with increased marketing efforts by the NZCA, but there is still huge potential which will never be realised unless Auckland has a dedicated convention centre.

"The centre wouldn't only benefit Auckland, the whole flow on effect to the wider community and throughout the country with pre and post tours and partner programmes is huge," he says.

Overall the convention and incentive industry is looking quite healthy. The Ernst & Young report to the year ending September 2001 shows that approx. 38,600 international visitors came to New Zealand for a conference with the majority from Australia (61%), Asia (13%) and North America (12%). Each person stays for nearly nine days, spending an average of $320 per person per day.

"Figures for September are also looking very good and I don't expect the events of September 11 to have much impact because the majority of our arrivals are from Australia. If anything this market will probably increase," Mr Trotter says.

"This is for a number of reasons including our close proximity and increased marketing by the NZCA."

Marketing strategies include two websites a convention one and another dedicated to incentives, which as a stand-alone is a world first. Direct marketing campaigns are also underway and New Zealand food and wine is being used as a drawcard at winemaker's dinners in Sydney and Melbourne.

"These functions are a great opportunity for potential clients to get together with our convention bureau managers and sample great New Zealand food and wine. It works really well," Mr Trotter says.

The NZCA's Conference Assistance Programme (CAPS) is also hugely successful in winning international association meetings and has secured more than $123 million worth of business over the last six years.

"We compile an initial feasibility study for free, and then help the association bid for the international conference with the help of a professional conference organiser. As far as I know we're the only place in the world that funds that initial research," says Mr Trotter. "And it pays off. Each thousand dollars we invest in CAP translates into more than a million dollars for the New Zealand economy.

"Our success rate is also high, winning 56 out of 80 bids over the last six years which is about a 70 percent success rate."

The programme also helps with marketing plans, bid documents, venue assessment and discounted airfares to present the bid.

"Any association affiliated to an international body which wants to grow its membership and reputation and establish itself as a credible international player should seriously consider bidding to host its conference in New Zealand," Mr Trotter says. "The benefits are endless, not only for the association but for the whole country."

For further information contact Alan Trotter, NZCA chief executive on 486-4128 or 025-982-833 or Tracey Mehrtens, PR Manager on 025-233-0604.

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