December 16, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Following a difficult second half of 2021, Business Events Industry Aotearoa’s (BEIA) digital summit delivered a picture of the challenges ahead for New Zealand’s business events landscape as the global pandemic nears the end of its second year.

The association’s Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins said the goal of the summit was to “offer a sense of measured optimism” for the road ahead.

In a joint presentation between Hopkins and Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager of Domestic Events, Bjoern Spreitzer, the continued use of managed isolation for international arrivals into New Zealand was flagged as the most pressing issue, followed by the increasing urgency of sustainability for the sector. The ongoing significant of domestic business was also flagged as was the enduring appetite for New Zealand as a business event destination internationally and a rise in local willingness to bid for international events.

Research from Tourism New Zealand showed a major challenge for the country was to retain presence in international markets as a viable destination option, particularly with there being no clear indication over when international arrivals will be able to enter New Zealand without needing to quarantine or isolate.

BEIA will be looking at solutions to present to Government and officials on removing the MIQ impediment at the border. We all agree health and safety for visitors and community is a priority,” said Hopkins.

“However, in the immediate future, and with New Zealand operating under the Covid-19 Protection Framework, there is greater flexibility for domestic business events, provided attendees are vaccinated.”

Noting that the opportunity for carbon offsetting was almost fully realised, Hopkins also said the association was committed to finding solutions presented by sustainability challenge of New Zealand being a medium to long haul destination for most international clients.

At the summit BEIA presented a forecast which has the nation’s business events industry returning to pre-COVID levels of business by 2024, after seeing a 73 percent drop-off in spend since 2019.

“Our forecasting takes into account open borders with vaccines will still play a role, the opening of exciting new infrastructure – Te Pae Christchurch this month, Tākina Wellington and NZICC in Auckland convention centres – and Australians choosing to stay a little closer to their region (Oceania and Asia). Domestic business will start to move off-shore, but will be topped up by higher-value international visitors returning,” Hopkins said.