Singapore Airlines’ announcement of a new long haul service connecting Wellington to Singapore via Canberra is a game changer for the region’s economy, said Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) Chief Executive Chris Whelan.
The route will support WREDA’s focus on attracting foreign direct investment, growing international education and trade, and furthering growth in Wellington’s thriving NZD$2.5 billion per year visitor economy, Whelan said.
“This is ground-breaking for Wellington’s prosperity, as well as our liveability proposition,” he said. “There are a variety of trade, education, investment and business opportunities this will help unlock, as well as significant potential for our visitor economy.
“This isn’t just about Singapore and Canberra, it’s about connectivity via Singapore as a hub to and from destinations throughout Asia and the world. Wide-body aircraft capacity will open up air freight opportunities linking Wellington exporters directly to global markets, while the improved linkages make our region an even more attractive proposition for businesses looking to move or expand.”
WREDA is already working on its strategy and activity plan to leverage the service.
“Strategically this links the two Australasian capitals with the world and will significantly enhance the Wellington business case,” Whelan said.
“With Wellington’s strengths in knowledge-dense, services-rich industries such as ICT, biotech and the creative sector, there is scope for growth in both export and foreign direct investment.
“Our hotel occupancies rates are also such that warrant further investment in this area, while the city’s ambitious growth plan presents some incredible infrastructure opportunities. This connectivity is exactly what we need to top off the Wellington pitch to international business and investors,” he said.
International education growth is also high on WREDA’s agenda, Whelan said.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that we believe Wellington is currently underforming in international education attraction and we intend to change that. This connectivity is exceptionally timely as we put together our plan to transform the region’s performance in this highly valuable sector,” he said.
The benefits to Wellington’s visitor economy will also be manyfold, Whelan said.
“Visitors from Asia spent $77 million in the Wellington region in the year to March 2015. This is up from $60 million the year before – a 27.5% increase in one year. Singapore is a premium travel market, while visitation out of China in particular is experiencing incredible growth; we’ll be working with our trade partners to ensure they know exactly what Wellington has to offer so that we can really accelerate this growth,” he said.
While the key opportunity lies in the global connections to Singapore and with key international markets beyond, the Canberra stopover is further icing on the cake.
“The Canberra stopover presents a fantastic opportunity for both government travel and to further build on the momentum of the Australian visitor market, which currently comprises over one third of international visitor spend in Wellington,” Whelan said.
“Canberra is bigger than our second largest domestic market and enjoys the highest wages in Australia. With our creative, culinary and nature experiences – coupled with our position between two of New Zealand’s finest wine regions – we offer a compelling short break proposition to Canberrans, who will no doubt be tremendously excited to explore these new and inaugural international connections,” he said.
The impact of the endorsement of a premium international airline such as Singapore Airlines– celebrated as one of the world’s best – could not be underestimated, Whelan said.
“The Wellington Story script keeps getting more and more riveting, with the past two months alone seeing announcements of the Collider tech hub, a movie museum and convention centre, launch of world first holographic technology and now one of the world’s most premium long haul airlines connecting Wellington with the world. 2016 is shaping up to be a tremendously exciting year.”