Event managers show interest in stadium

Dunedin is set to benefit from the lucrative conference and event industry, with the Forsyth Barr Stadium attracting interest from both sides of the Tasman.

The yet-to-be-completed stadium was one of 170 companies marketed at Meetings 2010, an annual trade show held in Auckland last week, attracting buyers and sellers involved in the $1 billion industry.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd marketing and communications manager Jo Scully said the stadium, which can accommodate up to 1000 diners, had attracted interest from New Zealand and Australian conference organisers and event managers.

As a result of the trade show, several dates had been "pencilled in", with more likely in the coming months, Ms Scully said.

Large companies, industry conferences and trade shows were among those who had registered an interest.

The venue is taking bookings from August 2011.

Several conferences had already booked the venue, but it was too early to name them, she said.

Also at the trade show was Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton, who said the stadium, coupled with the refurbishment of the Dunedin Centre, had "generated plenty of interest with buyers".

The conference industry was a lucrative one, as participants tended to stay during the quieter winter months, spend more and stay longer than most visitors, he said.

New Zealand remained an attractive destination for Australian conference-goers, and Dunedin, with its transtasman links, was set to become an increasingly popular option, he said.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand chief executive Alan Trotter said the industry was worth $1 billion a year to the country's economy.

Because of its proximity to the University of Otago, and taking into account Dunedin's tourism attractions, the stadium would be a drawcard for conference organisers, he said.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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