Big money coming as city attracts conference

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 12:55 24/07/2013

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Nelson has scored one of the most sought-after conferences, in what is being hailed as the first in a new wave of big earners for the region.

The Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) three-day conference will be held at the new conference centre at the Rutherford Hotel next July and is expected to bring 600 visitors to the city.

"It is one of New Zealand's most sought-after conferences and we're absolutely delighted to announce the city has been given the opportunity to host this prominent event," said Nelson Tasman Tourism chief executive Lynda Keene.

Previously, the average conference in the region hosted 200 people. Now the new conference facilities at the Rutherford, which could cater for 700 people, had opened up the ability to hold larger conferences, she said.

"It's just the start of this new wave of this business we expect of conferences and conventions in the centre. A lot of groundwork has been done and we are confident we will see some really good new business within the next 18 months."

Others in the accommodation sector would benefit because the Rutherford hotel had 113 rooms, so some would stay at other hotels and motels. Retailers and taxis would also benefit, she said.

The average spend for a domestic visitor was $127 a day and for a conference delegate $424 a day.

For 600 delegates staying two nights, that would mean a $500,000 injection.

Nelson city mayor Aldo Miccio said securing the LGNZ conference was fantastic news. "We'll be welcoming about 600 conference attendees and their partners to Nelson Tasman this time next year. I know LGNZ members will be excited to come to the sunniest region in New Zealand, especially for a mid-winter break.

"It's a real coup the region can bring in a conference of this calibre, given we're not one of the major centres. We aim to make the most of it for local businesses too, putting together comprehensive packages to ensure attendees extend their stay as long as possible. We'll definitely encourage conference goers to bring family along and use the region as a base for a school holidays getaway."

Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne also welcomed the conference. "It provides an opportunity to show how collaboration at a regional level can work as well as providing the sector with pre- and post-conference opportunities to enjoy the region's recognised hospitality and enjoy what we know as the best place in the world to live and do business."

Ms Keene said convention and incentive marketing manager Angela Hunter had worked with the Nelson City Council to secure the bid. Ms Hunter hosted Megan Bartrum, representative of Local Government New Zealand, and Megan O'Brien, from Conference Innovators, in the hope of securing the bid.

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