The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) says New Zealand’s welcoming visa entry process and niche knowledge areas will be key selling points as the country competes for international business events.

PCMA Senior director of global development and partnerships, Michelle Crowley, was this week in Auckland at the invitation of Tourism New Zealand and the Auckland Convention Bureau, addressing local events industry professionals on meetings industry ‘Trends of Tomorrow’.

Crowley said that the way the business events industry works alongside government, field experts and academics is a drawcard for New Zealand.
With increasing events infrastructure coming on-line, including new convention centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, the country is at a turning point for attracting large international conventions.

“What makes New Zealand different? You’ve got one of the best brands in the world but you can do even more on a global scale as you build up your infrastructure,” she said.

“In addition, in a world where visa entry services are becoming more difficult, New Zealand stands apart, offering a waiver entry service.”

Crowley cited Convene’s 26th Annual Meetings Market Survey, due out this month, which found that 58 per cent of respondents said it was more difficult to obtain visas than the previous year.

New Zealand has more than 50 countries on its visa waiver list. Additionally, it has recently introduced a new Business Events Visa program, aiding access for delegates from the key markets of China, India, Thailand and Indonesia.

“This is a big selling point for you. How easy it is to come here is an area that will set you apart.

“I think it’s quite impressive how tied in Tourism New Zealand and the government are in terms of realising the role of immigration and economic development in destination marketing. More countries are shifting to that model of attracting events and visitors that relate to economic development and key industries.

“I think in New Zealand you have great universities, great industries, and being able to connect groups coming in with that is critically important. New Zealand realistically is not going to get thousands and thousands of huge events, but you have such strong niches you can win business because you are stronger than your competition in terms of offering that knowledge economy.”

Key sectors targeted by Tourism New Zealand’s Business Events team include agribusiness, ICT, screen and digital, high value food and wine, health science, earth science, marine, aviation, and tourism.

Tourism New Zealand manager of business events, Lisa Gardiner, says: “New Zealand is already an attractive business events destination and to ensure that continues it’s important that the industry is aware of international delegate expectations so we can deliver now and in the future.”

“Business events deliver millions of dollars to the New Zealand and event destination economy and put New Zealand on the world stage as research and thought leaders.”