My Dunedin Itinerary

Prestigious congress win for Dunedin

23 November 2016

Dunedin and the University of Otago have won the rights to host the 22nd Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions to be held in September 2020.

The five day international conference will attract up to 600 delegates to the city in the off peak season, translating to up to 3000 room nights and will bring in an estimated $1 million to the local economy.

The Congress will be held at the University of Otago and members of staff in the Religion programme will run the conference on behalf of official hosts, the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religion.

It will be the first time this conference has been held in New Zealand, religion has been taught at the University of Otago for over 50 years and coincides with the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religion’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

Associate Professor Will Sweetman championed the bid and says “Hosting the IAHR World Congress in 2020 gives us a wonderful opportunity to bring outstanding scholars of religion from all over the world to New Zealand, as well as to showcase the work of staff and students in Religious Studies programmes in New Zealand. We hope it will also create a lasting legacy for the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions.”

On the process of winning this conference Sweetman says “We would not have won this bid without the Tourism NZ Conference Assistance program and Enterprise Dunedin. The staff were fantastic, and helped us to produce a professional and convincing bid document. The Executive Committee of the IAHR were impressed by the strong support offered by the City of Dunedin and the University of Otago.”

The University’s global profile continues to be a factor in attracting international conferences to Dunedin.

“Promoting Dunedin and New Zealand as a knowledge centre continues pay dividends, as it gives us a unique proposition globally. These conferences deliver vital economic benefits to our city and surrounding regions as they bring high yield delegates during our off peak season.” says Enterprise Dunedin’s Business Events Tourism Advisor Bree Jones.

This win is another successful collaboration between the University of Otago, Enterprise Dunedin and Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) using their Conference Assistance Programme (CAP).

Lisa Gardiner, Manager Business Events and Premium says “This is a fantastic result for Dunedin and wider New Zealand. Visitors to events like this often spend additional time in the area and travelling further afield and this benefits all New Zealanders. Hosting events gives us the opportunity to showcase the world class offering and that encourages more and more international groups to consider New Zealand as an event destination. Tourism New Zealand works with a number of agencies and offers a range of support to assist them bring conferences like this to New Zealand.”

Other recent conferences won through the CAP’s programme are:

  • The 9th World Congress of Herpetology 2020 – 1000 delegates, estimated economic value $1.2 million
  • Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections & Taxonomic Databases Working Group Joint Conference in 2018 – 350 delegates, estimated economic value $630,000
  • The 54th World Congress of the International Sociology of Sport Association, to be held in autumn 2019 – 300 delegates, estimated economic value $525,000

For further information contact

Bree Jones, Business Events Tourism Advisor, Enterprise Dunedin

+64 21 865 111