Statements of Service ​Provision

3 Economic Development
​Whanaketanga ōhanga

The Council attracts and supports business activity, markets Wellington to tourists from New Zealand and overseas, owns and operates performance venues and conference facilities, promotes business, education and cultural links through sister city relationships and provides free weekend parking in the Central Business District.

We fund these activities to attract and retain talent, grow the tourism spend and economic returns from events and increase inward investment and exports.

These activities make Wellington a more vibrant place to live and improve residents’ quality of life, prosperity, identity and the opportunities available to them.

Our economic development objectives

Tourism spend

Investment attraction / digital exports

City vibrancy

Our economic development activities contribute to us being:

People–centred: Our activities make Wellington a vibrant and entertaining place to live. They connect people with places and ideas, make Wellington an attractive place to do business and attract tens of thousands of visitors to the city every year.

Connected: Major events, and our performance spaces and conference venues, connect us to artists and events of national and international significance and Wellington’s story is connected to the world by Positively Wellington Tourism’s marketing and promotion. Event-based websites and social media platforms are connecting and informing people and encouraging attendance at events.

A dynamic central city: Our events, festivals, spaces and venues anchor Wellington’s appeal as a place of creativity, exploration, innovation and excitement. Iconic events such as the World of WearableArt® awards show (WOW), the New Zealand Festival and the International Rugby Sevens are world class and an integral part of our Dynamic central City.

Case study

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Wellington hosted four matches, including two sell-out games, with many of the world’s best cricketers for the ICC Cricket World Cup in February and March.

The first Wellington-hosted match between New Zealand and England proved to be one of the fastest selling fixtures across the tournament. Overall, around 84,000 people attended the four matches at Wellington Regional Stadium, with over 30,000 of those coming from outside of Wellington and more than 10,000 international visitors to the city.

Our extensive city activation programme ensured that the cricket matches were surrounded with activities for visitors and supporters. Our goal was to make every game feel like a home game, no matter where people were from and reinforce Wellington’s reputation as the 'coolest little capital in the world'. The Village Green at Civic Square ran throughout the tournament, including an artificial turf and a cricket pavilion. This space was the focal point for the non-Stadium city celebrations, with face painting, food stalls, a photo booth, backyard cricket and cultural and music performances in the lead-up to each of the games.

The Village Green concept was also complemented by a number of Urban Design initiatives in Civic Square at the same time: the pop-up beach, outdoor bean bags, and the living green wall. The combined result was that the Village Green activated Civic Square as a popular and well-used outdoor space in the heart of the city over the period of the tournament and received very positive feedback.

Additionally, we held a double-header set of twilight concerts at Frank Kitts Park, with a food market on-site. The English Cricket Team was officially welcomed with a pōwhiri at Te Wharewaka on the waterfront. We ran the Cadbury Films by Starlight series over four Saturday evenings with a selection of free evening films at the Village Green. There were also bands, musicians, cultural performances on the city streets in the days leading up to each match, a Black Caps autograph signing at the Village Green and a fireworks display on 20 March, celebrating the quarter final being played the following day.

The economic impact report following the Cricket World Cup showed that the Wellington economy benefited significantly, with direct spend by out of town visitors of $35 million an increase in GDP in the city of $40 million and 700 additional jobs created as a result of the tournament.


City promotions and business support
Ngā whakatairanga tāone me ngā āwhina pakihi

By supporting city promotions and major events, we underscore Wellington’s reputation as a great place to live and visit.


What we do

Wellington’s economic prosperity is closely linked to residents’ quality of life. Prosperity provides the resources for businesses, the Council and individuals, to contribute to the vibrancy of the city and invest in its future development.

Our promotions and business support activities are closely linked to Grow Wellington’s work. Working with other institutions in the region ensures that we use our resources effectively. Our activities include:

  • tourism promotions (Positively Wellington Tourism)
  • events attraction and support
  • convention venues (Positively Wellington Venues)
  • retail support (free weekend parking)
  • regional and external relations
  • grants and creative workforce
  • ​attracting businesses and talent to Wellington
  • sustaining city vibrancy.

What we achieved

We supported arts and cultural events that contributed to Wellington’s economy and created jobs. WOW was again a success, with extra shows added, resulting in three consecutive weekends of performances. Wellington hosted the Four Nations Rugby League final in November and the sold-out Homegrown festival in March. The inaugural CubaDupa festival was also held in March, with a broad range of artistic performances attracting thousands of people to the city over 2 days.

We hosted major sporting events, including two World Cups. Wellington hosted four matches for the ICC Cricket World Cup in February and March. Around 84,000 people attended the four matches at Wellington Regional Stadium, with over 30,000 of those coming from outside of Wellington and more than 10,000 international visitors to the city. The economic impact assessment concluded this gave the Wellington economy a significant boost, with direct spend by out of town visitors of $35 million and an increase in GDP in the city by $40 million. The city also successfully hosted nine matches for the FIFA Under-20s World Cup in May and June.

We won the rights to host future events. Wellington has won the rights to host a number of international rugby matches over the next two years, including the second test between the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions in July 2017. Other major upcoming events include the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo presented by the New Zealand Festival, which will return to Wellington in February 2016.

Our city played host to strong visitor numbers. Commercial guest nights for Wellington grew by 6.4% and had their highest 12 months on record (surpassing Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Canterbury and the national growth rates). International guest nights grew by 12% and Wellington’s average length of stay has risen to 2.14 days. This is up from five years ago and is now surpassed nationally only by Queenstown/Central Otago and summer holiday destinations.

We continued to establish Business Improvement Districts (BIDS). Following the successful establishment of the BID in Miramar, we helped to get the BID in Khandallah up and running. BIDs (through pooling funds) enable projects targeted at improving the local economy to be undertaken to complement Council services.

We provided funding to foster economic growth. The Wellington Economic Initiative Development (WEID) fund completed its second year of providing funding to events and initiatives. We supported a wide range of projects through the fund, including the Cricket World Cup, the rebirth of the CubaDupa festival, the Jazz festival, the World War 1 Commemorations, planning for the Wellington Capital City 150th anniversary and the hosting of the World Water-skiing Championships.

We established WREDA, in partnership with GWRC. WREDA incorporates the former tourism, venues management, major event, and Destination Wellington activities of Wellington City Council, together with the activities of Grow Wellington. WREDA is 80% owned by Wellington City Council and 20% by GWRC (on behalf of the region).

The runway extension at Wellington Airport was advanced. Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) completed economic impact and route viability assessments for a runway extension and we commissioned a peer review of this work. This work concluded that there is sufficient demand to support long haul services out of Wellington, with strong economic benefits regionally and nationally. The Mayoral forum (comprising all of the mayors from the Wellington region) agreed in principle to support regional funding towards the runway extension. WIAL continues to build the body of work required to apply for the resource consent and the business case for the extension. Council agreed to provide a further $1.95 million to WIAL to complete this process, and this funding was matched by WIAL.

We continue to work towards delivering a convention centre to Wellington. There was strong support for this development through the LTP consultation process and we continue to explore options for the centre on the Cable Street site. We are currently working with Willis Bond, who have secured the site and will assess feasible options for incorporating a city-scale convention centre.

We supported the Basin Reserve Trust in developing a masterplan for the Basin Reserve. The masterplan was endorsed by the Council in April as the guiding document for the Basin Reserve redevelopment.

We made significant progress toward the establishment of a Wellington Technology Hub. A Technology Hub is one of the Council’s Big 8 ideas and will contribute to economic growth for the city. During the year, we completed the business case, selected a partner and secured funding approvals through the WEID fund for the establishment of a Technology Hub. We aim to have the first stage up and running by October 2015.

We supported technology events and activities. Through the WEID fund, we supported the establishment of a Developers Academy, the first business accelerator for Youth Enterprise Alumni, the inaugural Open Source/Open Society international conference, the establishment of CreativeHQ’s innovative services offering for government and corporations and the boosting of the Summer of Tech activities. We also supported events including Ted-Ex, Ted-Ex Women, Web Developers Conference of NZ, Multicore World and Start-Up TelAviv.

We connected more people. Over the year, CBDFree wifi was expanded to include Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and access points were upgraded. Due to a change to the way it could be accessed, usage increased nearly 300% to 6,816,785 sessions over the year.

How we performed

Our investments in economic development have been very successful. We had more people attending events, significantly more visitors coming to Wellington and more money being injected into the local economy.

We measure the success of our investments in promoting the city

International visitors – guest nights

International visitor room nights increased to 769,714 in the year to April 2015, an increase of 12%. (Target: increase international visitor nights by 2% from 2013/14; 2013/14: 686,692; 2012/13: 667,760).

This year we hosted a number of notable international events, including the Cricket World Cup and the FIFA Under-20s World Cup, leading to a significant increase in the number of international visitor room nights. 

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Average length of stay – international and domestic visitors

Result: 2.14 nights (Target: 2 nights. 2013/14: 2.12; 2012/13: 2.04; 2011/12: 2.05).5

Source: Statistics New Zealand

New Zealand market visitors

Domestic visitor room nights increased to 1,426,141 in the year to April 2015, an increase of 2.1% (Target: increase by 2% on previous year. 2013/14: 1,396,402; 2012/13: 1,373,613).

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Positively Wellington Tourism – partnership funding

The Council’s funding amounted to 46% of total revenue (Target: maintain the Councils’ funding at less than 50% of total revenue. 2013/14: 50%; 2012/13: 49%; 2011/12: 48%).

Source: Positively Wellington Tourism (WREDA)

Events/activities held with formal international partnership cities (in Wellington and overseas)

There is no target for this measure.

We understand the reach of events and promotion activities

Wellington venues occupancy

Result: 1,008 hire days (Target: 951. 2013/14: 1,115; 2012/13: 953).6

Source: Positively Wellington Venues (WREDA)

Estimated attendance at WCC supported events

Result: 898,968 (Target: 400,000. 2013/14: 670,368; 2012/13: 549,128).

This year events such as the Hurricanes home Super Rugby final, CubaDupa Festival, Cricket World Cup, LUX light festival and other one-off events, have led to us significantly exceeding our target. We have set a new target of 500,000 for this measure in the 2015/25 LTP.

Source: WCC City Events

We measure the success of our investments in economic development

Residents’ satisfaction (%) with WCC supported events and festivals

Result: 83% (Target 95%. 2013/14: 86%; 2012/13: 90%).

Source: WCC Residents Monitoring Survey 2015

Events Development Fund – ratio of spend to economic impact

Economic benefits outweighed costs by a ratio of 23:1 (Target 20:1. 2013/14: 23:1; 2012/13: 24:1).

This year we have seen high performance across many of our economic development measures, including the Events Development Fund. Events such as the Cricket World Cup, Rugby League Four Nations final, an extended World of Wearable Arts season, Lux festival, CubaDuba and a Hurricanes semi-final have led to a significant return on investment.

Source: WCC City Events

The proportion of grants funds successfully allocated (through milestones being met)

Result: 100% (Target 95%. 2013/14: n/a; 2012/13: 100%).

Source: WCC Community Networks

We measure the standard of parking provision

On-street car park turn-over rates (cars per day) – weekdays and weekends

What it cost

3.1.1 Tourism Promotion
Expenditure 5,541 5,630 89 5,676
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 5,541 5,630 89 5,676
3.1.2 Convention Venues1
Expenditure 23,037 17,763 (5,274) 25,201
Revenue (15,012) (14,035) 977 (21,936)
Net Expenditure 8,025 3,728 (4,297) 3,265
3.1.3 Retail Support (free weekend parking)
Expenditure 1,452 1,449 (3) 1,327
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 1,452 1,449 (3) 1,327
3.1.4 Grants and Creative Workforce
Expenditure 1,112 1,262 150 1,201
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 1,112 1,262 150 1,201
3.1.5 Events Attraction and Support2
Expenditure 6,132 4,313 (1,819) 4,231
Revenue (386) - 386 (193)
Net Expenditure 5,746 4,313 (1,433) 4,038
3.1.6 Regional and External Relations3
Expenditure 2,941 4,881 1,940 2,664
Revenue (8) - 8 (8)
Net Expenditure 2,933 4,881 1,948 2,656
3.1.7 Destination Wellington
Expenditure 2,706 2,510 (196) 1,843
Revenue - - - -
Net Expenditure 2,706 2,510 (196) 1,843
3.1.2 Convention Venues4
Expenditure 2,268 1,618 (650) 3,551
Unspent portion of budget to be carried forward n/a 203 - n/a
  1. Under budget as revenue from activity was higher than expected.
  2. Over budget due to additional spend on Events. The majority of the over-spend was approved by the Council on the 30th September, as part of the Funding for Nominated Events Paper.
  3. Under budget in 2014/15 due to lower expenditure in the Wellington Economic Initiative Development Fund. This is primarily as a result of some approved initiatives being rescheduled to occur in subsequent financial years.
  4. Budget includes $480,000 carried forward from the 2013/14 year for renewal works on Positively Wellington Venues facilities. Over budget due to an increased capital programme agreed by the Council in September 2014 to allow for needed upgrades to the seating at the TSB arena.
5Previous results have been changed, as more up-to-date information is available.
6The 2014/15 figure is for the first three quarters of the year only, yet still exceeds target. Fourth quarter results are not available, as Wellington Venues Limited has been amalgamated into WREDA.