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Events Centre to boost economy

With Claudelands Exhibition Centre open and just months to go until the launch of the Conference Centre in April and Claudelands Arena in July, the resulting economic impact is set to boost local businesses. Estimates, based on the data gathered by market research company Covec, suggest conferences and exhibitions will bring millions to the Waikato region despite the current challenging economic conditions. 

Convention Activity Survey figures for 2010 show conferences, conventions, meeting, seminars, exhibitions and trade shows in NZ total 32,000 events annually.

Conference delegates are presently New Zealand’s highest spending tourist demographic with 2.55 million delegates spending $395 million annually.

Multi-day events see 700,000 delegates booking accommodation for an average of 8.4 nights for international visitors and 3.3 nights for domestic visitors.

The average spend for each delegate is $725 for local conferences, $1,419 for domestic travellers and $4,079 for international visitors or $424 per night – around 3.6 times more than ‘typical’ travellers.

Sandra Perry CEO of Economic Development agency Opportunity Hamilton hopes the statistics will encourage greater support of the near-complete Claudelands Event Centre.

 “This is further evidence that Claudelands has the potential to generate major economic wealth for our city and region. The event centre is on our back doorstep so we all win when it succeeds. All Waikato businesses need to think about how to generate the most use of the centre, both in their business and social networks. Who of their global or national contacts should be hosting their next event, seminar or concert in Hamilton? After all, every dollar spent here goes back into their economy,” said Sandra.

With 20% of NZ’s exports coming from the Waikato – mainly dairy and associated agricultural industries – there are huge opportunities for international focused conferences and exhibitions that previously may not have come to Hamilton.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce CEO Wayne Walford thinks the location of Hamilton and Claudelands’ proximity to the CBD will bring visitors and greater revenue to retail, services and entertainment businesses in central Hamilton.

“Our access to around half of NZ's population ,who live within two hours drive, make Hamilton a valuable point of connection for people and events. Visitors need petrol, food and entertainment – all of which can be accessed within 10 mins from Claudelands. With projects like this leadership and vision are important. The commercial sector drives the lifestyle of a place and if we don’t enrich our lifestyle we will end up driving people away”

Economic Impact reports for stadium and arena events held in other NZ centres give strong evidence of the positive economic returns from shows. The Taranaki Daily News in February and March 2010 reported that the Fleetwood Mac concerts held at New Plymouths Bowl of Brooklands in December 2009 provided a $23.08 million initial financial boost to the region. 75.3 per cent of attendees came from outside Taranaki with 26 per cent of those were visiting the region for the first time. Each spent on average $410.88, with accommodation receiving 28 per cent of the total spend, hospitality 27 per cent, retail 20 per cent, transport and parking 11 per cent, and other sectors 14 per cent. The result was a net profit to the region of $9.56m and benefits that went beyond the cash.

“Not only did the concerts draw national and international media attention to the region, but they attracted many people who had never been to Taranaki before and they were impressed, which means there’s every chance they will come back. While the measurable economic benefits were certainly a boost for the region, the many non-financial benefits offer greater long-term potential” Venture Taranaki's chief executive Stuart Trundle told the Daily News.

Another, less formally studied event, Rotorua’s Raggamuffin Music Festival, sees tourists spending “several million” dollars in the city, Event and Venues General Manager Peter McCloud told the Rotorua Daily Post this month. Two thirds of attendees (around 20,000 people) come from outside of the Bay of Plenty district and McDonalds reports their biggest breakfast turnover for any one day at any branch nationwide on show day.  McDonald’s Rotorua franchisee Rob Parry said it is their single biggest day of the year with more than a 30% increase on their next biggest day.

“While ticket sales for Fleetwood Mac 2009 and Raggamuffin 2010 were around 35,000 each, considerably more than the 6,000 capacity of Claudelands Arena, collective Claudelands venues could match this with as little as seven arena shows per year and the population pool of Hamilton alone is at least three times bigger than Rotorua or New Plymouth” said Director of Business Development and Marketing for event facilities, Murray Jeffrey.

Figures for Hamilton events such as last weekend’s Nitro Circus back up this evidence showing similar trends in event tourism. Almost half of the 25,000 who attended Nitro Circus travelled from outside the Waikato region, with less than 4000 tickets sold in Hamilton alone.

With a number of international events booked into the 6000 capacity arena by New Zealand and Australasian promoters are expected to be confirmed in the coming months with shows to be publically announced.

Paul Dainty of Dainty Consolidated Entertainment, the promoters of shows such as Neil Diamond, Michael Buble’, Robin Williams, Bon Jovi and Live, said

“It’s great to have another indoor venue in NZ and this can only help increase touring activity”.

With the third largest arena for concerts and sporting events, the third largest conference venue and the second largest exhibition centre in the country, Claudelands is a unique multipurpose venue with both national and international appeal.

The success of Claudelands is not only a Hamilton priority, the success of Claudelands is also of national importance.

Waikato Business News: http://www.wbn.co.nz/