International conferences drive positive social change

Capturing the positive social impact of international conferences was the focus of a workshop hosted by Tourism New Zealand in Auckland last week.

Representatives from the conference industry attended the workshop.

Representatives from across the conference industry learnt how they can play a role in ensuring international conferences have positive long-lasting impacts on their local communities.

Tourism New Zealand’s Global Manager of Business Events, Lisa Gardiner says, “International conferences have the ability to create positive social change in our communities.”

“They bring together local and international experts which sparks innovation. This helps to grow our industry sectors and improve the lives of New Zealanders.

“The workshop aimed to get industry thinking about the contribution that conferences bring to our communities in addition to the substantial economic benefits they provide.”

The workshop was facilitated by Genevieve Leclerc, a global expert in conference and association management with over 20 years’ experience.

Genevieve says traditional indicators of success for business events are no longer relevant as they do not capture the true value they provide to the community.

“Delegate spend and hotel bookings don’t portray the value international business events contribute to the wellbeing of communities. It’s important new measures of success that capture what conferences contribute and what a destination can offer are implemented.”

An example of an upcoming conference that will have a positive impact on the host community is the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) conference coming to Hamilton in 2019.  

It is the first time the conference has been held outside of the United States and Canada and will provide scholars and students with access to some of the best academics in this field.

The local community will benefit from this knowledge sharing as it will help to advance indigenous relations here in in New Zealand.

Hamilton and Waikato Tourism’s Chief Executive, Jason Dawson says it’s benefits like this that make them want to attract more business events to the region.

“From a regional perspective, international business events are a great way to help improve the wellbeing of our local community. We work closely with Waikato University and its academics to bring conferences here that create social change in the region, such as the NAISA conference.”

Tourism New Zealand actively targets international conferences in sectors where New Zealand excels, such as the marine, agribusiness, health science and high-value foods industries.