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Auckland builds global events reputation

New Zealand's largest city is flexing its muscle as a destination for international events.

Caleb Allison
Mon, 03 Dec 2012

Proponents of Sky City's yet-to-be-approved $350 million convention centre argue the centre is needed to attract big international events, but the city seems to be doing fine with what it has got.

Recently named runner-up for the 'Sports City' prize at an international sports event management awards – won by London – Auckland is proving to be among the world's best at attracting global events.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), a council-controlled organisation created along with the Super City, has been driving the big-event strategy.

Aside from the Rugby World Cup, it has managed to secure the ITU World Triathlon Championships as an annual event in Auckland and it took the V8 Supercars from Hamilton.

Auckland will also host the IRB Junior World Championship in 2014 – the world's biggest rugby tournament after the World Cup.

ATEED's major events general manager Jennah Wootten says that event will inject $7.3 million into the region's economy.

"Hosting important international sporting events is a key economic driver, and this is another important win alongside the 2017 World Masters Games," she says.

Having big events held in Auckland is not new, of course – it hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1990, and the America's Cup in 2000 and 2003.

But Auckland's solid infrastructure, and ATEED's aggressive marketing, is seeing large events come to the city more regularly.

And it is holding its own against much larger cities – for the sports city runner-up award it beat Copenhagen, Melbourne, Manchester, Glasgow and Dusseldorf in western Germany.

Conferences, too

Major sports events get a lot of profile, but international conferences also provide a significant economic benefit.

Three large conventions have been announced in recent weeks, the biggest being the International Symposium on the Forensic Sciences in 2016.

The conference is expected to attract at least 1000 delegates and will inject about $4 million into the local economy.

In comparison, the IRB Junior World Championships is expected to generate $7.3 million.

Other conferences include the global powerboat conference Union Internationale Motonautique next year with 200 delegates and the 300-delegate 2014 Intelligent Transport Systems Asia-Pacific Forum in 2014.

Conventions and Incentives NZ ceo Alan Trotter says the industry is experiencing a mini-boom.

"This business is a bit like fishing. You put the burley in and you don't get anything, and all of a sudden a shoal of snapper come through.

"A lot of this business has been worked on for a number of years but it wasn't announced until recently. "

New Zealand cannot realistically host a conference of more than 1000 delegates, which is why Mr Trotter and others in the conference sector push the need for Sky City's proposed centre which could hold 3500 people.

However, the fact Auckland can still attract 1000-delegate conferences proves the city is an attractive destination, Mr Trotter says.

Caleb Allison
Mon, 03 Dec 2012
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Auckland builds global events reputation