Conference push brings in millions

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The tourism boom may be “over”, but millions of dollars are still being poured into Queenstown’s economy via conferences.

Forty events, worth about $9 million, were confirmed in the 2018/19 financial year, according to Destination Queenstown’s Queenstown Convention Bureau.

Some were held within that year, while others represent a “pipeline of events” into future years.

Events from the domestic and Australian markets dominated, while events from the United States, Canada, China and Southeast Asia were also confirmed.

Bureau director Kiran Nambiar says they’ve “focused on a diverse but targeted portfolio of markets” and been building awareness of the resort as an event destination.

That included the signing of a memorandum of understanding with New Zealand’s largest bureau, Auckland Convention Bureau, last year.

Encouraging business in the shoulder seasons has also been a focus, Nambiar says.

“While this has been the focus for a few years, this has paid off in the last year with half of events secured to land in either autumn or spring.”

Winter is still a strong proposition, too, with around a quarter of total business generated for the colder months.

“These events directly benefit Queenstown businesses, from local event management companies, to locally-run venues, suppliers, caterers, transport and of course the range of add-on activities that only Queenstown can offer delegates.”

The news follows a slightly less cheery outlook for the sector suggested by Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts late last month.

Roberts, who had been in the resort for an association event, told the Timesstarted about 2013 is over.”

“In fact, the peak of the boom was probably two years ago.”

International arrivals to New Zealand grew about 2 per cent in the past 12 months, but could flatline later in the year, he said.

“This calendar year, we’re probably at zero or down.”