Speech: Tourism New Zealand Business Events Dinner

I would like to thank Kerry Prendergast and Stephen England-Hall, and the team at Tourism New Zealand for organising this great event tonight.

It’s an honour to be here to celebrate the success of the business events sector.

I would like to offer my congratulations to all of you who’ve helped bring an international conference to New Zealand.

In the last financial year, New Zealand successfully won hosting rights for more than two-thirds of the conventions we bid for.

This is a fantastic result for such a small nation.

Your efforts have brought real benefits to our regions and our economy.

As you know, bidding for international events is hugely competitive.

We’re up against much bigger competitors around the world.

But we have an advantage, and that is our unique people and culture.

Our kiwi style of hosting, our manaakitaga, ensures that conference delegates arrive here as visitors but leave as whānau.

This makes a real difference on the global stage.

That – as well as our world-class meeting spaces, stunning scenery and you, our international experts – is what sets us apart from others.

I’d also like to acknowledge the tremendous benefits that international conferences bring to New Zealand.

Conferences like the ones you’re involved in deliver millions of dollars to the economy. In 2017, international delegates spent a total of $153 million in New Zealand.

Of course, the return New Zealand gets from hosting international conferences is more than just economic.

Hosting an international conference raises the international profile of New Zealand in key sectors and brings influencers and leaders to our country. This can often be the catalyst that sparks innovation.

The Government wants to foster sustainable growth through innovation, technology and high-paying jobs.

I believe international conferences provide a starting point for bringing real benefits to our business, research and technology sectors.

International conferences have the potential to grow our industry sectors which have a flow on effect to all New Zealanders.

A thriving business events sector is also crucial to the overall success of tourism.

Compared to other visitors, international conference delegates stay for a shorter time but spend over 50 per cent more per night than all other visitors.

We also know that conference delegates are keen to get out and see the regions, with international visitors (outside of Australia) spending 44 per cent of their nights outside of their event region.

Growing the regions is a priority for this Government, and I am pleased that with your help tourism is doing its part to contribute.

Increasing the number of international conferences we host is a great way of increasing productivity and regional dispersal in our tourism system.

This is something I am keen to work on with all of you.

I’m also interested in maximising the ways tourism benefits our communities.

For me a successful tourism industry means flourishing regions, opportunities for Māori enterprise, and meaningful career opportunities for our young people, our rangatahi.

I believe there’s plenty of scope for our business events sector to play a prominent role in this space.

I’d encourage all of you to seek out Māori tourism products that can be incorporated into your conferences to give your delegates an unforgettable taste of New Zealand.

I’m eager to collaborate with the sector and explore innovative ways we can increase these opportunities.

The success of the business events sector reflects the passion and hard-work of those working in the sector and those who support it.

In particular, I want to acknowledge the work Tourism New Zealand does in supporting conference bids.

Your Conference Assistance Programme provides invaluable support and has made a real difference to many of those seeking to bring conferences to New Zealand.

I also want to acknowledge the hard work of New Zealand Regional Convention Bureaux and the various convention bureaus across New Zealand.

The range of support services they offer is vital in making sure that our international conferences are a success.

2020 will see the first conferences held at the New Zealand International Convention Centre. This will provide a global hub for events in the heart of our biggest city, Auckland.

In 2020, the Christchurch Convention Centre – Te Pae will open. This will unlock the potential of Christchurch and the Canterbury region.

These new facilities will provide great, new spaces for international conferences in New Zealand.

The Government is fully supportive of the excellent work you are all doing, alongside the work of Tourism New Zealand and your local convention bureaus.

Your work helps to set us apart on the world stage and bring a raft of benefits to New Zealand.

Once again, congratulations on your successful conference bids.

Tonight is a great opportunity to celebrate this success. I look forward to getting to know you all more and hearing your conference win stories.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.