Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) continues to leverage the opportunities unlocked by the Singapore Airlines Capital Express service, with a comprehensive business and tourism trade mission recently giving the Lion City a high-profile taste of 'the coolest little capital'.
Held in July and led by WREDA in conjunction with NZTE and Tourism New Zealand, this was the largest regional business mission from Wellington to date, with the tourism, hospitality, food & beverage, education, events, film and tech sectors all represented. Events included travel trade training sessions, meetings with investors, suppliers, potential customers and industry bodies, as well as promotional media appearances.
Wellington City Councillor and Economic Development portfolio leader Simon Marsh said the mission was an important step in maximising the benefits of the new service for Wellington’s economy.
"Thanks to the new Singapore Airlines service, Wellington is effectively closer than ever before to Singapore. By boosting Singaporeans' awareness of what Wellington offers, as both a visitor destination and trade partner, we help make the most of our closer connection.”
Hayley Horan, Trade Commissioner to Singapore for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise said the size and breadth of the Wellington mission was definite advantage.
"Having Wellington here 'en masse', with a wide range of businesses participating alongside a destination brand, allows for a promotional presence that is greater than the sum of its parts. As the regional entity, WREDA’s coordination was key to unifying the mission, and its success means business and consumer interest here in Singapore has increased not only for the businesses who came, but for Wellington itself."
WREDA General Manger, Business Growth & Innovation David Jones said the cross-sector approach was key to the mission’s success.
“We were able to significantly raise Wellington’s profile in Singapore and educate key people on Wellington's distinctive sectors. The mission also enabled valuable face-to-face discussions between Wellington business and venture capital firms, potential customers, and New Zealand companies who’ve successfully broken into the market.”
Jason Gleason, co-founder and Chief Executive of Wellington data integration company Eight Wire, said Singapore represents a tremendous opportunity.
"This is our second trip in-market alongside WREDA. On the first we presented to a group of local investors, and on this latest visit we followed up with the potential customers and delivery partners. As the world's third-largest banking centre, Singapore handles a vast amount of business data, making it an ideal market for Eight Wire, and one we're definitely keen to explore.”
David Jones from WREDA said the Singapore market is proving receptive to the idea of Wellington as a tech and innovation centre.
“In talks with A*STAR, the Singapore government’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, we identified several areas for potential partnership between our two centres, including artificial intelligence and agri-tech.”
Wellington's tourism sector was represented by a contingent of tourism, transport and accommodation operators participating in a Tourism New Zealand-managed trade training event. Barbara Hyde, from Destination Wairarapa, said the event was particularly exciting.
"With more than 100 frontline travel sellers attending, this was a great opportunity to educate this market on the whole Wellington region’s tourism offering. Moreover, the scale of Wellington participation carried its own message; that we are an important and distinctive destination in a New Zealand context.”
For the mission's key networking function, Chef Martin Bosley created and served a Wellington-themed cocktail menu, and also appeared on breakfast television show First Look Asia to showcase New Zealand produce and Wellington cuisine.
Mr Bosley said Singapore represents a tremendous export opportunity for our premium food and beverage producers, as well as for culinary tourism.
"New Zealand's reputation for top quality primary produce is well-established in Asia, and missions like this allow us to enhance that story with a Wellington dimension of distinctive culinary expertise and creativity. Like Wellingtonians, Singaporeans love great dining experiences, and appreciate the skill and creativity of great cuisine.
Jos Ruffell, from Wellington brewery Garage Project agrees.
"Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Singapore and, like elsewhere, they're excited by the new wave of creative and speciality beers coming through. With a world of beers in the market, Wellington's goal must be a reputation for brewing that's origin-centric, so that the idea of a beer from Wellington, New Zealand automatically gets people's mouths watering."
During the visit, Mr Ruffell was interviewed by Singapore's major daily newspaper The Straits Times, plus lifestyle publications Wine & Dine, and The Peak. In the last year Garage Project has secured distribution deals in Singapore, as well as supplying the Singapore Airlines Capital Express service.
David Jones says WREDA is committed to an ongoing programme enhancing business relations between Wellington and Singapore.
"This is the first year of our closer connection via Singapore Airlines. We've made a strong start, which we'll continue to build on, cultivating deeper relationships between our economy and Singapore's, boosting Wellington's profile and enhancing our reputation. As well as further missions to Singapore, we'll host delegations here in Wellington, where we can provide a full Wellington experience and enable even greater connections.
The benefits of increasing trade with Singapore run across the region and its economy, and WREDA believes in seizing this opportunity with both hands."