More than a year after the biggest crisis the tourist industry has ever faced, operators from around the country will gather in Christchurch to tackle where to now for the sector.
In pre-Covid-19 times, the tourism industry held an annual event, TRENZ, giving New Zealand operators the chance to meet with international buyers and media.
Fast forward to TRENZ Hui 2021 starting today in Ōtautahi, a first for New Zealand sellers who will instead talk among themselves about what next for the industry.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said the event was a sellout and focused on preparing businesses for when the international markets would open again.
He believed it may be the largest face-to-face business gathering in Aotearoa since the pandemic began.
Almost 750 people are attending over two days, "so there's no lack of enthusiasm to get together to discuss the big issues''.
Roberts said trying to understand what may lie ahead was exactly what the event was about.
"We'll be exploring all the issues, what we do know and what we don't know. There's a lot of uncertainty about what faces tourism in New Zealand and around the world.''
Among other topics, operators are expected to discuss when borders will open beyond Australia and the workforce.
"It's going to be a very different picture than pre-Covid, we don't exactly know what the big challenges are but to try to get some consensus in the industry about what they are and how we tackle them.''
Today attendees can expect to hear from Roberts, Tourism New Zealand chief executive René de Monchy and TIA chair Gráinne Troute talk about the 'here and now' and the key issues the industry will likely need to navigate in the next 18 months.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and ChristchurchNZ general manager of destination and attraction Loren Heaphy will lead a session on the city's progress over the last 10 years.
On Thursday, attendees will hear a major address on the government's priorities for tourism from Tourism Minister Stuart Nash, who will be speaking around the themes of 'support, recovery and reset'.
Roberts said organisers were delighted by the turnout for the event, especially given they were not sure how people were feeling.
"The opening of the Tasman has given people a lot of heart, and they want to get together to discuss the biggest crisis the industry has ever faced and how we build an incredible tourism industry that's recognised around the world for its sustainability.''