New Zealand’s welcoming visa entry process and niche knowledge areas will be key selling points as the country competes for international business events, according to a leading global convention management association.

Michelle Crowley, Senior Director Global Development and Partnerships at PCMA (the Professional Convention Management Association), was 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 draw card 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.

“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.

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

She cited Convene’s 26th Annual Meetings Market Survey, due out in March, 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 programme, 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.”

Lisa Gardiner, Manager Business Events and Premium, Tourism New Zealand, added: “New Zealand is already an attractive business events destination and to ensure that continues it’s important that the industry are 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.”


Featured image: (L-R) Tourism New Zealand Business Events Bid Manager Leonie Ashford, PCMA’S Michelle Crowley, and Auckland Convention Bureau Manager International Bidding Lisa Edser in Auckland