Insights from Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager NZ & Business Events, Bjoern Spreitzer, on New Zealand’s Ambitions to Increase its Share of the Asia Pacific Conference Market

Can you provide an overview of New Zealand’s tourism industry, highlighting its strengths and challenges?

New Zealand ranks highly on many people’s must-visit list, thanks to its stunning scenery, unique Māori culture and broad range of activities, from action-packed adventures in nature to more relaxing pursuits like stargazing, thermal hot pools, and wine tasting.

We are building on our air connectivity and Asia presents a great opportunity for New Zealand to unlock further business through direct or one-stop flights.

Te Puia, New Zealand

What makes New Zealand stand out as a destination, and how do you plan to use these unique qualities in marketing?

You may have seen Tourism New Zealand’s If You Seek campaign, which showcases how New Zealand rewards those curious enough to look a little deeper and go a little further to discover more authentic, meaningful connections with culture, people, and the environment. The Business Events version of this campaign won the ICCA 2023 Best Marketing Award. If you seek a transformational event, it’s here to find.


If You Seek a Business Event that’s Far from Generic

How does New Zealand cater to both business and leisure travellers effectively?

New Zealand has a growing Business Events sector, which plays an important role in bringing visitors to the country in the traditional shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. Innovative knowledge networks in sectors including agribusiness, health sciences, screen and digital and earth sciences ensure we have a strong bidding pipeline and content appeal for conferences.

Lake Tekapo - New Zealand Autumn

Add the wider leisure travel appeal of New Zealand, our great accommodation and events infrastructure, and our famed hospitality, and it provides an attractive proposition for conference delegates and leads to a well-attended, successful event. Many delegates bring their partner or family along and stay on post-event to explore the country further.

What strategies has New Zealand implemented to grow the MICE industry, and could you outline specific initiatives for enhancing business events?

New Zealand has three new, world-class convention centres in its three largest cities currently booking conference business: Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre which opened in 2022; Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre which opened in 2023; and the New Zealand International Convention Centre, which opens in Auckland in 2025.

These modern venues solidify New Zealand’s status as a world-class conference destination and enable us to bid for larger-scale events. In this financial year we are on track to bid for a record 90 international conferences.

Looking ahead, what are your primary objectives for advancing the MICE industry in New Zealand?

This year we are hosting an in-person ICCASkills training event in New Zealand to educate and elevate the New Zealand events sector.

We are actively pursuing association conference business in the Asia Pacific region as part of an educational and networking mission through Singapore, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur centred around our attendance at the inaugural MEETINGS Show APAC in Singapore alongside 10 New Zealand partners.

The team is also attending PCMA APAC in Singapore and visiting the ICCA Asia Pacific regional office in Kuala Lumpur to further its conference research capability and to build ties with the sector.

The tour will finish with a special dinner in Seoul for select association executives, hosted at the New Zealand Residence with Ambassador of New Zealand H.E. Dawn Bennet.

We are looking to build on and enhance the relationships and connections already in place to grow New Zealand’s presence and share of conferences in the Asia Pacific region. These range from research alignment through university partnerships and industry collaborations, to direct airline connectivity between Auckland and Christchurch and many destinations across Asia.

Business Events New Zealand - Te Pa Tu - Networking

How crucial is sustainability for New Zealand’s tourism industry, and what future plans exist to promote sustainability?

In New Zealand, we feel a special connection to the natural world and believe we have a duty of care to look after it for future generations.

We encourage visitors and event organisers in New Zealand to commit to the Tiaki Promise – to care for land, sea, and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace, and to respect local culture and communities, travelling with an open heart and mind.​

Qualmark, New Zealand tourism’s mark of quality, now has more than 2000 members across the country including venues, accommodation providers and experience operators, and this is growing. Its Sustainable Tourism Business criteria has been recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Visitors can now be assured all Qualmark accredited members meet global standards of sustainability across five key pillars: business systems, environment, people & culture, social and health, safety & wellness.

One shining example is the new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, which has received Qualmark Gold accreditation, meaning it exemplifies best practice in sustainable tourism business. The venue has also been recognised as Toitū net carbonzero certified, just one year after committing to the milestone.

What are the anticipated growth projections and strategic plans for New Zealand’s tourism industry by 2024/2025?

Visitor numbers continue to show positive signs with January arrivals having recovered to 79% of pre-COVID levels. Tourism New Zealand is focussed on encouraging visitation, with a focus on the off-peak months to support the sector to increase its year-round productivity and sustainability, with international conference business helping boost that off-peak visitation.


The 28th Asian Seed Congress flourished when held in Christchurch, NZ

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