Stephen England-Hall: "Business events critical to New Zealand’s recovery"

The impact of Covid on our $40.9 billion tourism industry has been well documented. Tourism was our largest export earner and employed more than 220,000 people.

Stephen England-Hall, Chief Executive, Tourism New Zealand

Kiwis have done a fantastic job and answered the call to do something new, explore New Zealand and support the sector to help Aotearoa’s recovery.  
But it’s not enough. New Zealand will still have a $12.9 billion revenue gap per annum without international visitors.  
Kiwis spend on average $155 per person per day and don’t tend to book experiences like guided tours, helicopter flights, or private dining when we holiday at home. 
Business events will play a critical role in filling this gap and supporting economic recovery.  The numbers don’t lie: the average domestic spend per person when attending business events outside  their home region is $533 per day – over three times what we spend on a trip away with friends and family. 

Large international conferences, national meetings, incentive reward programmes for global corporates, and team away days contributed to a Business Events industry worth well over $455M to New Zealand’s economy in 2018. 

And these events play an important role in enriching New Zealand, both economically and in delivering broader societal and knowledge benefits. 

It’s these meetings that fill convention centres and hotels mid-week and in the quieter shoulder seasons. It’s these longer lead-time bookings that are vital to preserving jobs year-round. It’s these events that sustain a much wider eco system of support services, often smaller Kiwi companies – florists, catering, Audio Visual suppliers. It’s these incentive rewards that keep the high-end guided fishing trips and adventure activities afloat.

Business events are worth every dollar. But beyond that, they are essential to help businesses solve problems, build teams, inspire staff, change tack, create opportunities, look to the future – critical actions as we face the many challenges Covid has brought.

Our research tells us businesses value getting their people together: 94% of New Zealand businesses, associations, and not-for-profit organisations we surveyed are intending to meet off-site in the next 18 months. The majority view is that technology is unlikely to fully replace the need for in-person conferences in the long-term.  

If I could achieve one more thing by the end of 2020, it would be to get every New Zealand business that hasn’t yet met face to face after lockdown to engage with their local convention bureau, professional conference organiser or favourite meeting location to book their next event and set up 2021 for a positive future.  

This Op-Ed was written as part of a commercial partnership with