New Zealand, which took quick steps to close its international borders and rigorously track and trace any Covid cases, has been held up as a shining example of how to deal with the pandemic.
The approach has resulted in just 2,365 cases of Covid in the country and 26 deaths (as of 24 February). Of course, the country’s unique geography has been a big advantage, but it is positioned well to welcome back global conferences when borders do open.
Domestic business events continue and New Zealand’s events sector has adopted a Voluntary Code to deliver events based on ministry of health guidance.
New research by Tourism New Zealand shows 97% of 125 home-based organisations surveyed were planning to hold a business event in 2021. Tourism New Zealand has the following major international events still lined up:
• The 2022 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces in Christchurch
• The International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES) in Auckland in 2023
• The International Association of Women in Police (IAWP) Annual Conference in Auckland in 2023
• The International Coral Reef Society’s Symposium in Auckland in 2025.
While international borders may not be open work has continued apace to ensure the opening of Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre in the second half of 2021. It will offer 28,000sqm of flexible space and a virtual tour of the facility is available at: www.tepae.co.nz/gallery.
Construction continues on two other major venues which, when complete will see the New Zealand International Convention Centre offer 6,674sqm of multipurpose event space in Auckland and Takina – Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre will open in 2023 with 18,000sqm of event space in the capital.
New products to consider for the return of the incentives market include the transformation of Auckland’s former convention centre SkyCity into two new, immersive experiences.
Weta Workshop Unleashed is a new entertainment experience bringing together movie magic and effects and providing interactive experiences. Hands-on workshops, film effects demonstrations can also plug in to any event at the venue, which can handle 700 people for cocktails.
Opening in December, the All Blacks Experience is an interactive journey through the New Zealand rugby story, with opportunities to try out your kicking and catching skills in an interactive zone and to experience the full force of the haka.
New Zealand is also famous for its wines and Gibbston Valley Lodge & Spa in Queenstown is one example of luxury accommodation offered in a top winery. Cave tours and private wine tasting are available.
Christchurch’s new Riverside Market Kitchen Cooking School allows visitors to get hands-on with some of New Zealand’s finest produce.
A bureau view
International business may have stopped, but ChristchurchNZ Convention Bureau manager Claire Hector-Taylor’s team has continued to work hard with government and industry association, Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) to develop the Events Sector Voluntary Covid-Code. It is designed to protect health and livelihoods.
The NZMA South GP-CME, a medical conference for GPs, was to be held in Christchurch late last year. In less than a day, thanks to a huge collaborative effort, it was transformed into a fully digital event.
Hector-Taylor says international sales and marketing activity continues in readiness for when Asia-Pacific opens up. The focus is on Christchurch’s knowledge economy. “We have a huge talent pool of world-leading sector experts, and we will look to bid for new international conference opportunities to help ensure a robust pipeline of business events into the city,” she says.
Hector-Taylor says ChristchurchNZ is using its share of the Regional Events Fund to help major events in the sector.
“Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre opening later this year means we have the ability to host larger business events than we ever have before,” Hector-Taylor says and those planned already include:
• INTECOL, October 2021 – Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, November 2021
• Congress of the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists, Nov. 2021
• International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) and International Initiative for Disability Leadership, March 2022
• Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA), June 2022.