With the two-way, quarantine-free travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia kicking into gear since April 18, business events industry players are upbeat and optimistic that this will bode well for bilateral trade.
Speaking to TTGmice, Lisa Hopkins, CEO of Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA), expressed confidence in the benefits that the travel bubble pact will have on the industry. “Confidence is the fuel that feeds the sector, and this will support organisers and decision-makers by giving them the assurance to proceed with their planned events,” she said.
â€śWe know that there is demand to travel to New Zealand. On the day that the announcement was made, Air New Zealand had one of its busiest sales days in history,â€ť Hopkins added.
Tourism Australiaâ€™s executive general manager of events, Penny Lion, shared: â€śWe are quietly optimistic. From what we are hearing from clients, Australiaâ€™s business events industry will probably start to see business from New Zealand returning in late 2021 and early 2022.â€ť
According to ongoing research conducted by Tourism Australia, measuring Australian corporate decision-maker attitudes to restarting events, confidence for business events and travel is returning. In the latest research wave, 66 per cent of decision-makers said they were planning events in the next six to 12 months.
In a reflection of this shifting sentiment, face-to-face business events are resuming across the country. Last month, Tourism Australia held its annual Destination Australia conference in Sydney, which saw a record in-person attendance of 450 guests. Over in Victoria, 900 tourism operators gathered in-person for the Victorian Tourism Conference at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre last week.
New Zealand has also already conducted several in-person industry events such as BE Reconnected. But when it comes to organising events, Hopkins encourages groups to make use of a PCO, saying that it would make a â€śtremendous differenceâ€ť in providing information and support, should business events travellers get stuck due to a sudden border closure.
When quizzed on the possibility of more travel bubble arrangements, both Hopkins and Lion noted that their governments are constantly looking at other countries and their management of the pandemic to explore the viability of a bubble.
For New Zealand, a confirmed Cook Islands bubble is on the horizon in May. Meanwhile, BEA plans to continue inspiring planners via its marketing and communications activity through Australia Next, its incentive magazine on whatâ€™s new and interesting in Australiaâ€™s business events industry. The latest edition for South and South-east Asia will be available on the website from early May.
But despite the apparent optimism, Hopkins cautioned: â€śThe situation globally is volatile and until we have some degree of mass vaccination, a worldwide return to international business events is likely to be next year, according to various experts.â€ť
Regardless, this safe travel zone has â€śenormous potential as a proof of concept modelâ€ť, and is the first step towards resuming inbound travel from other key international markets, Lion pointed out. For now, she sees a â€śsignificant opportunity to encourage Kiwis to choose Australia for their next business eventâ€ť.