April 5, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: Destination Queenstown

New Zealand remains at red in the nation’s COVID-19 Protection Framework, after government leaders undertook a review of the current settings yesterday.

The most restrictive level in the framework, the red setting allows a maximum of 200 people at any kind of event, however as of today, vaccination is no longer a requirement for attendance.

New Zealand’s Minister for COVID Response Chris Hipkins said that while it was “encouraging” to see fewer cases, different parts of the country were at different points with their caseloads.

“Four weeks ago we were averaging around 20,000 cases a day, compared to today where that average is just over 13,000. But while the drop in cases is mainly in Auckland and Wellington, other places aren’t yet in the same position,” said Hipkins.

“Hospitalisations have dropped in Auckland, but continue to plateau in regions like Canterbury, Waikato and Northland.

“As a result, the public health advice is that it is not yet the time to ease the existing restrictions and drop down to Orange. Ministers will review these settings again next week.

“We have put this check in place due to the pace at which we are seeing the COVID-19 situation changing, and acknowledging that Easter and the upcoming school holidays are an important time for businesses – particularly those in our tourist regions,” Chris Hipkins said.

Despite the continuing cap, the business events industry in New Zealand is forging ahead under the assumption that it is only a matter of weeks before events return to unrestricted numbers when the nation moves to the orange setting.

Flagship industry association Business Events Industry Aotearoa already has over 200 hosted buyers signed up for MEETINGS, its annual trade show in June, with applications closing next Friday.

And, off the back of news that New Zealand’s border will open to vaccinated Australians from one minute to midnight on April 12, Queenstown Convention Bureau (QCB) is reporting strong interest from its nearest neighbour for business events in the nation’s adventure capital.

“The timing of the announcement by Prime Minister Ardern could not have been better for QCB; it injected a great level of excitement which immediately generated increased interest in our region and business event booking enquiries,” said the bureau’s Australian business development manager Jana Kingston, who got 20 business leads from 63 meetings with buyers at the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event in Melbourne two weeks ago.

“The announcement was the crucial piece of information needed to give event planners the confidence and certainty they can once again put Queenstown back on their list.

“To say we are excited to welcome Australian business events and delegates back to Queenstown is an understatement. We have spent two years preparing for this day, we have used our downtime wisely and we are ready to show why Queenstown is still one of the world’s top business event destinations,” said Kingston.

A range of new hotels and experiences have opened in New Zealand during the pandemic. Read the New Zealand feature in micenet’s latest magazine to discover some of the headline new developments across the country.