WOW delivers another significant economic boost to Wellington

'Earthling', a piece designed by Gill Saunders for the World of Wearable Art 2023 show in Wellington New Zealand.

Nelson designer Gill Saunders was the 2023 Supreme Winner for her design ‘Earthling’.

The 2023 World of WearableArt (WOW) Show again contributed more than $30 million to the Wellington region, according to an economic evaluation commissioned by the city’s economic development agency, WellingtonNZ.

The event, held over three weeks in September and October, attracted an audience of almost 60,000 people, with 60% of ticket buyers coming from outside the Wellington region specifically to attend WOW. Those people generated 67,247 visitor nights and spending of more than $19 million.

The economic evaluation of last year’s event, undertaken by Fresh Info, found each of those visitors spent on average $646 and $287 per visitor night. In total the gross economic contribution to the region was $30,313,656.

World of WearableArt chief executive Meg Williams says WOW was proud of the role the event plays in Wellington and “delights in helping this special creative city show off all it has to offer”.

“Throughout the season hoteliers, retailers and restaurateurs were telling us what a buzz and boost WOW brings and it’s great to have that feedback reinforced by this fantastic economic impact result. We take great pride in delivering to this wonderful city economically as well as creatively, and know our visiting audience absolutely love their time in Wellington.”

Heidi Morton, WellingtonNZ’s general manager of events and experiences, says WOW continues to enthral audiences with its breath-taking originality and remains a favourite must-see event.

“The WOW season is a highlight on Wellington’s cultural calendar — not only is it spectacular but last year attracted 600 international visitors. Together with more than 31,000 visitors from all over New Zealand, they dined in our restaurants, stayed in our hotels and shopped in our retail outlets ultimately benefiting a wide range of people.”

In addition to providing strong economic results the evaluation found 93% of Wellingtonians who went to WOW agreed or strongly agreed that hosting events like this increased their pride in the Wellington region.

“WOW underlines the value to Wellington in hosting major events,” Heidi says.

“Last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup had a net benefit to the city of $24.6 million. Over summer Wellington has an exciting line-up of major events including the Foo Fighters performing at Sky Stadium on 27 January, the Aotearoa New Zealand Arts Festival opening on 23 February followed by Jim Beam Homegrown music festival on 16 March and the Australian men’s and women’s cricket teams playing at the Basin Reserve.

“And of course, WOW will be back in September.”

The 2023 WOW Show had a satisfaction rating of 96%, with 86% of ticket buyers saying they’d attend again, says Meg.

“We have an incredible 2024 WOW Show in the works and can’t wait to share it with audiences later this year. Our near perfect satisfaction rating shows people are loving the creative developments we’ve made in the past few years and feel that experiencing WOW in Wellington is money well spent.”

Tickets to the 2024 WOW Show go on sale to the general public on Tuesday 9 April.

About the WOW Show in Wellington

The WOW Show has been held annually in Wellington since 2005 and is the city’s most significant annual event. As an internationally recognised design competition and performance, WOW plays a critical role in enhancing Wellington’s reputation as a creative and culturally vibrant city. The event attracts entrants from more than 40 countries, with designers creating extraordinary works of wearable art that are brought to life on stage in a world class theatrical extravaganza. The 2023 Supreme Award winner was Nelson designer Gill Saunders.

Date published: 23 January 2024