Auckland’s business events ambassador program – the Auckland Advocate Alliance (AAA) – has recently welcomed its 50th member. The program, which started with just 14 members in 2015, was launched in New Zealand by the Auckland Convention Bureau (ACB) to support local academics and sector experts to bring high-profile conferences and events to the city.

So far, it has helped secure more than 34 international conferences, which have injected $40 million into Auckland’s economy.

The 50 advocates represent a broad range of knowledge, from cancer drug research to pediatric medicine, technology, engineering, internet security and infrastructure.

The newest advocate is Kath Eastwood, general manager of Dietitians NZ, who is in the process of bidding for her first event, The International Congress of Dietetics in 2028.

Kath Eastwood commented: “ACB has been amazing. I’m a dietitian by trade, not an events expert, and they’ve helped us throughout the whole process.”

One of the original advocates is Nirmal Nair, associate professor at the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at The University of Auckland.

He has been instrumental in bringing four international conferences to Auckland, worth $2.5 million. Nirmal is now bidding for a fifth, which would deliver another $500,000 to the local economy.

Nirmal commented: “It’s a way of giving back to the city. These conferences attract high net worth individuals, enabling us to show our knowledge, make connections in our industry and raise the visibility of our people.”

Head of ACB, Anna Hayward said the advocates within the AAA programme play a key role in the success of Auckland as a business events destination.

“We are extremely fortunate to work in partnership with the passionate leaders within our ambassador program who assist us by not only bidding to host influential conferences in Auckland, but also opening doors and communicating the widespread benefits of bringing an international event to our region.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s economic hub with universities that consistently rank among the best in the world.

“It’s an honour to work alongside our advocates who help to showcase our intellectual and innovative expertise to the world.”

An event was held on December 16, 2020, to acknowledge the support and success of those within the program, with the advocates getting a sneak peek at the events capabilities of the newly opened Weta Unleashed.