New Zealand is going full steam ahead with the development of new strategies in line with the projected NS$400 mil (US$276 mil) the industry will deliver to the economy from conference and incentive business bids won over the past five years.
However, to make New Zealand more competitive, the industry association for New Zealand’s business events sector, Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) is seeking to abolish GST for business event registration, and discussions with the Inland Revenue are already ongoing.
Currently GST must be charged at 15% on registration fees for conferences held in New Zealand, regardless of whether the conference attendees are residents or non-residents. This is putting New Zealand conferences at a GST disadvantage compared to Australia, in particular.
“Australia is watching [New Zealand] with interest and acting on many fronts to win and secure what they have in their lucrative business events industry,” said Sue Sullivan, chief executive for CINZ.
“Australia now has an edge on us in a number of ways including zero-rated GST for international delegates since October 2016, state funding in various forms for conference bid support, and the recent federal government announcement of a AU$12 (US$9.44 mil) million bid fund program over three years.”
A strong part of the bid fund program is that international conferences, congresses and incentives are financially supported at various levels including documents and marketing, travel costs, familiarisation trips, and delegate marketing, which Sullivan said is an important part of any association business.
“New Zealand needs to be more competitive on the world stage,” she added.
Stephen England-Hall, chief executive for Tourism New Zealand, said that the country has secured 40 international conferences and 47 incentive programmes in the past year. “This is an excellent result and means the benefits will be spread far and wide, including into neighbouring regions,” he said.