Waikato lures more conferences

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 10:30 26/11/2012

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The Waikato is the country's third biggest conference destination with the Claudelands Conference and Exhibition Centre claiming a big hand in the achievement, hosting 300 events which attracted more than 250,000 visitors in a year.

The Government's latest conference activity survey of the hospitality and tourism industries in the year to end June showed a significant number of delegates to events at the Claudelands venue stayed for more than one day, said Murray Jeffery, director of business development for Hamilton's event facilities.

He said the survey showed that of more than 300,000 total days spent in the region, over half were multiple-day stays.

“The result highlights Waikato’s growing appeal as conference destination. And with Claudelands now hitting its stride, numbers will continue to climb,” he said.

Waikato Regional Tourism Organisation chief executive Kiri Goulter said business tourism is a driver of delegates to the Waikato and a key factor in helping to sustain business year-round for the region.

“Conference delegates are also known to extend their stay after a business event with family members, or travel back to a destination to explore the area as general leisure visitors at a later date, further increasing the flow-on benefits,” Goulter said.

Upcoming plans by SkyCity to develop a $35 million hotel in Hamilton will also add to the region’s infrastructure and capacity, she said. 

Claudelands attracted a number of key conferences in the past year including: the New Zealand Concrete Industry conference, the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) conference and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) annual conference, Jeffrey said. 

The 6000-capacity Claudelands Arena had also been in demand in recent months, hosting events such as Sky City Breakers basketball games, a Silver Ferns netball test and the successful Armageddon Expo, which was not included in the latest survey. 

The recent concert by musical theatre diva Elaine Page last month bypassed some other main centres to headline at Claudelands. Jeffrey says this trend is set to continue with The Hollies and Bonnie Raitt already on the schedule and more to be announced. The return of the Breakers in late September was a huge success and the Waikato BOP Magic will return for next season as part of the ANZ Championship, he said.

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- Waikato Times

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