Christchurch will regain its status as one of New Zealand’s top business events hubs when its new convention centre opens in late 2019, say tourism leaders.
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Chief Executive, Vic Allen says the new Convention and Exhibition Centre will make large international conferences possible again for Christchurch.
“Already we have significant interest in larger conferences wanting to come back to Christchurch. Now we have certainty around the project we can ramp up our conference marketing activity again.
“Pre-earthquakes Christchurch held 23 per cent of the multi-day convention market in New Zealand and conferences were pumping around $100m a year into the Canterbury economy. In recent years our market share has recovered to nine per cent,” he says.
“Event organisers in Australia and around the world are ready and waiting to come back to Christchurch. Our strong working relationship with Conventions and Incentives New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand Business Events teams is helping drive conference and incentive business to the city and the wider Canterbury region,” Vic Allen says.
The purpose-designed venue will also be an economic boost for the city and an investment catalyst for new tourism development. “Conference business comes into the city in our shoulder and off season, spreads the economic benefits of tourism, and keeps hotel occupancy up throughout the year, making a compelling business case for hotel and other tourism infrastructure investment,” he says.
Convention Bureau manager Caroline Blanchfield says the new venue will provide a massive boost for the local knowledge economy too. “Many conferences are initiated by thought leaders in our universities, hospitals, research institutes and Canterbury’s specialist business sectors like engineering, agriculture and food production. These academics and business leaders want to bring specialist global audiences to conference here. It helps build their organisation’s reputation, speeds up creation of global networks and sparks new business opportunities.
Business tourism is a major growth sector for New Zealand with international convention delegates spending an estimated $350 per night, almost twice as much as other international visitors to New Zealand. International conference delegates also have an average stay of four nights in the conference city, which increases the delegates’ opportunity to spend more while they are here.
“Our location in the heart of the South Island makes Christchurch an ideal international conference destination, appealing to delegates and organisers who want to make the most of their time here to explore, either before or after their conference.”
Last month Christchurch was named a Top 10 International Destination by influential US business events industry magazine, Smart Meetings. The San Francisco-based publication called Christchurch “safe, stylish and legendary for scenery”.