Christchurch’s role as a convention capital of New Zealand helped boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by $100 million in the last financial year, new figures show.
The figures, released by Convention Bureaux New Zealand and the Ministry of Economic Development, show that multi-day conventions contributed $398 million to GDP in the year to June 2010.
Of that, an estimated $100 million was generated in Christchurch and Canterbury thanks to the region capturing around 25% of delegate days during that period.
Leonie Ashford, manager of Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau – the business tourism arm of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism – said it was clear from the figures that Christchurch’s efforts to secure large conferences and conventions were paying dividends.
“We’ve always viewed the conference and convention market as integral to the overall success of our tourism industry and it is clear from these figures that it is a major economic driver,” Ashford said.
“Over the years the city has worked hard to market itself as a business tourism destination and to build the infrastructure needed to host large conferences and conventions. The fact we have the only purpose-built convention centre in the country has certainly helped us stand out from other cities when it comes to attracting these types of events.
“We also have a very tight-knit conferencing industry and a strong networking culture that allows us to work together to stage events that benefit our whole city. Just last week we hosted 1800 delegates over four days for ULearn 2010 – New Zealand’s premier education conference,” Ms Ashford said.
“We have a reputation for being fantastic hosts and that is why so many corporates and organisations chose to hold their conferences here.”
Ashford, who also chairs the New Zealand Convention Bureau, said despite its success in attracting conferences and conventions, Christchurch’s business tourism industry was not resting on its laurels. It was working hard to attract new business and to improve the level of facilities on offer.
For example, the Hotel Grand Chancellor, which has the South Island’s largest in-hotel conference facility, was currently refurbishing its level 14 conference floor which can cater for up to 1000 delegates.
A funding announcement is due later in the year for expanding the city’s convention centre.
Alan Garner, General Manager Business Development of Vbase, the owners and managers of the Convention Centre says if the expansion is confirmed he is confident Christchurch can attract even more visitors.
“The past year has been very solid for the national conferences market and it’s backed up by a strong Australian sector. 2011 is already looking strong and it’s gratifying to see our efforts in both markets being reflected in the new convention activity survey data,” Garner said.
“We’ve got a great destination here but it’s clear we have to keep investing in our infrastructure if we want to continue to draw more of these lucrative conferences and conventions here,” Ashford said.