BY LAUREN ARENA
The future of New Zealand’s conference and incentive travel industry looks bright as CINZ CEO Alan Trotter says the development of three new convention centres by 2019 will increase overall capacity by approximately 6000 delegates and take New Zealand to new heights.
“These new convention centres will also drive greater hotel investment and benefit the wider tourism industry,” Mr Trotter said, as he outlined plans for three new facilities in Auckland, Queenstown and Christchurch.
“Lead times involved in the larger conventions are anything between three and seven years, so while 2019 sounds a long time, in terms of how the market works, it’s not.”
“As soon as these projects are confirmed the industry needs to get out there and to start marketing because they need to be full and they need to hit the ground running.”
While the business case for a Queenstown convention centre is still being developed and tensions between the federal government and local council in Christchurch have delayed any further announcement regarding a re-build of the city’s business events venue, Auckland’s proposed New Zealand International Convention Centre (NICC) has already attracted the attention of investors.
In early July SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited signed the complete project and licensing agreement with the New Zealand Government to design, build, own and operate the NZICC. The three-year construction period is set to commence in late 2014 with a completion date of September 30, 2017.
“Four new hotel developments are planned in the next three years and we expect to see several more coming online once plans and time frames are firmer around the NICC,” said Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) chief executive Brett O’Reilly.
“Conventions can change our visitor cycle and already we’re seeing a high degree of confidence from investors as a direct result of the international convention centre announcement.”
And, as the market’s need and demand come into alignment, Mr Trotter says there are several other spin-offs of convention activity, including delegate spend, which is between three and five times that of the standard international visitor.
“New Zealand is an aspirational destination for people to visit and there’s a definite synergy between leisure tourism and people wanting to bring business groups and association groups. What held us back in the past was limited infrastructure.” m
Alan Trotter, BLOODY GOOD.
Conference and Incentives New Zealand chief executive, Alan Trotter is due to receive the Life Membership and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the PCO Association for his significant contribution to the business tourism sector as he prepares to step down after 20 years in the top job.
Trotter says he is proud of his achievements and happy to leave the industry at a time of great excitement and promise, and in better shape than when he started.
“Twenty years ago people couldn’t even spell the word convention,” Mr Trotter said, who will make his exit on March 31, 2014.
“It was the forgotten sector of tourism, a Cinderella, so I do have a certain pride that I’ve played a small part, with a lot of others, in getting to the attention of local and central government the importance of the sector and the importance of infrastructure.”
He was responsible for the inauguration of MEETINGS, now recognised as among the best business event tradeshows in Australasia, as well as introducing the Conference Assistance Programme (CAP) into New Zealand.
Under Trotter’s tenure, CINZ membership grew from 20 to 320 and a marketing and sales office was established in Sydney to increase business within the Australian market.
Reflecting on his time at CINZ as “bloody good”, Mr Trotter said he is now looking forward to traveling through Europe and taking some time to smell the roses. m