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In July key buyers from throughout Asia, Australia and New Zealand will be in Christchurch for MEETINGS 2004, the industry trade show that promotes New Zealand as a destination for conferences, meetings, events, exhibitions and travel incentives.

It's become a powerhouse event in the fledgling industry that was only formally recognised as a sector group 20 years ago with the formation of Conventions Incentives New Zealand (CINZ). Now its membership generates nearly $300 million a year, creates countless business, professional and tourist development opportunities. International meetings are held regularly and frequently in the main cities, and favoured tourism centres such as Queenstown, Rotorua and Taupo.

The growth in meetings has led to the development of several new suppliers of goods and services to meet their needs. Venues have extended their range of services, developed preferred supplier relationships to ensure quality and value to clients, and became key players in their local economies. For instance, the country's only purpose built international venue, the Christchurch Convention Centre, has hosted complex and sophisticated meetings and events since it was opened seven years ago.

Next April will host 2750 delegates at a global IT company conference, the largest conference ever to be held in New Zealand. That level of activity has been the nucleus for a number of new business opportunities, including audio-visual, staging and exhibition setups, theming and entertainment. It has provided demand for transport, accommodation and entertainment at relatively quiet times of the tourist year, and has created a regular supply of visitors to surrounding attractions, such as Whale Watching, Hanmer Springs Alpine Resort, Waipara Wine Region, Akaroa, Mt Hutt, and golf courses.

Since the Christchurch Convention Centre opened in 1997 the national meetings industry sector has blossomed by finally having a city and venue able to seriously compete for lucrative international conventions. It has hosted large and complex meetings, such as the 34th Congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences with 2500 delegates from 70 countries attending, Commonwealth Health Ministers, Antarctic Treaty meetings, and large trade exhibitions.

Conference and meeting attendees are relatively bigger spenders per day that tourists. They spend on accommodation, restaurants, entertainment, retail and tourist activities, averaging more than $300 per day. Meetings Exhibition was established in 1997, the same year the Christchurch Convention Centre opened, and quickly became the industry's flagship event, the leading forum offering buyers and sellers the opportunity to meet face-to-face over two days. These are high-tech meetings, engineered by a sophisticated mix and match of pre-scheduled and scheduled appointments. The format works brilliantly, with last year's event producing a remarkable 98% exhibitor satisfaction rating and 94% of hosted buyers saying they would return.

Cathy Hemsworth, Sales & marketing Director for venue manager NCC (New Zealand) Ltd, chairs the host city organizing committee. "Meetings gives the industry the vital platform it needs to tell key buyers about new venues, products and services. We welcome hosted buyers and media working in industry publications, as well as the exhibitors who really paint the picture of what we are achieving."

Meetings 2004 includes a welcome function at the Christchurch Art Gallery, Sponsors' Happy Hour, Dine Around, exhibition, appointments, briefing sessions and a gala dinner at the Westpac centre for Sport and Entertainment. Conventions & Incentives New Zealand is the marketing name for the New Zealand Convention Association (Inc), a fully incorporated non-profit society, set up to foster and participate in the development of the convention and incentive industries within New Zealand, and to influence the marketing and promotion of New Zealand as a convention and incentive destination.

It does this through 12 main activity areas.

Employing a contract Educational Director to deliver quality education opportunities to the convention and incentive industries, in conjunction with the Meetings Industry Association of Australia

Providing Incentive and Conference Seminars

Raising standards of professional behaviour and ethics

Maintaining databases of companies or organisations that regularly hold meetings or conferences

Mailing members with details of forthcoming conference requirements

Holding the Meetings Exhibition annually in June or July, the only dedicated exhibition in New Zealand covering the conference and incentive sectors of tourism

Operating a Hosted Buyer Programme to ensure quality buyers attend the exhibition to check out new developments and products

Employing a full time Marketing Manager based in the New Zealand Tourism Board Sydney office responsible for co-ordinating Australian marketing activities

Regular familiarisation visits are undertaken from Australia to various destinations within New Zealand

Undertaking small famil visits from time to time from the North American market

Providing an email and direct marketing programme to incentive houses in the European and North American.

Marketing the website to the global industry

Providing regular input into many New Zealand and overseas publications and maintaining ongoing programme of providing media information relating to the New Zealand convention scene

"It all comes together at MEETINGS and it's hard to imagine a time when the meetings, incentives, exhibitions and conventions industry was almost unheard of in this country. Now we are competing and wining against world class venues in large exciting destinations that are a lot closer to Europe and USA where the majority of association headquarters are," Cathy Hemsworth said. "A large part of success is due to the professional and passionate efforts that go into these annual MEETINGS and Christchurch will once again try to raise the bar even further."


For more information please contact Cathy Hemsworth on or email or visit