‘Ground breaking’ agreement to boost Auckland’s profile as a business events destination in the Chinese market

Front row: Gemma Wood (Tātaki Auckland Unlimited), Jason Sun (China Southern Airlines), Carson Chen (China, Auckland Airport). Back row: Ken Pereira (Auckland Convention Bureau), Qu Guang Ji (China Southern Airlines) and Scott Tasker (Auckland Airport).

A new alliance aims to boost Auckland’s appeal for Chinese business travellers, particularly for conferences and meetings, trade exhibitions, and business incentive travel.

A new partnership between Auckland Convention Bureau, Auckland Airport and China Southern Airlines will see the three organisations work together to grow Auckland as a destination for Chinese business travellers.

Of the 210,000 Chinese visitors entering New Zealand since travel resumed between the two countries, 13,000 (6%) travelled for business, conventions or conferences with the Chinese business travel segment recovering to 65 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes.

Hotel capacity in Auckland has grown 23 per cent since 2019 to about 17,000 rooms in 2024, including new 5-star hotels such as Horizon by SkyCity, Intercontinental and Auckland Airport’s Te Arikinui Pullman.

The New Zealand International Convention Centre is also set to open next year with capacity of up to 3,150 delegates.

Ken Pereira, Head of Auckland Convention Bureau, said the agreement was “ground-breaking”.

“It is the first time that the Auckland Convention Bureau has partnered with an international airline to boost Auckland’s profile as a business events destination in the Chinese market,” Pereira said.

“This MOU offers us the chance to further strengthen our partnerships between Auckland and China, in particular across business events and incentive travel.”

Auckland Airport chief customer officer Scott Tasker says the partnership aims to build on Auckland Airport’s daily non-stop connectivity provided by China Southern Airlines to their main hub airport in the southern city of Guangzhou.

“We have seen a strong return of Chinese travellers since international travel fully resumed post-pandemic,” he said.

“Our three organisations have a history of working together and playing to our respective strengths. This partnership builds on that relationship to develop an exciting new market for Auckland’s conference providers.”

Guangji Qu, Executive Vice President of China Southern Air, said the agreement further cements the carrier’s commitment to being the “air bridge between China and New Zealand”.