ExportNZ Bay of Plenty launched the 2016 Bay of Plenty Export Awards this week, and is calling for nominations in the five award categories.

One of the Bay's most well-established events and now in its 26th year, the export awards have been noteworthy for bringing entertaining themes to the serious business of recognising local export success stories. This June will see ASB Baypark reflecting "the 1950s and golden age of air travel" with guests encouraged to enter into the spirit of the event. Tickets went on sale on Wednesday.

ExportNZ BOP executive officer Melissa Conrad urged people to sign up early, as last year's event sold out in 48 hours.

"The Bay of Plenty is a magical place and is a region that continues to shine both nationally and internationally," she said.


"With hundreds of exporting businesses throughout this fantastic region, and home to New Zealand's largest export port, the area is set up to and continues to do sensational things across the world stage."

The main sponsor for this year's awards is kiwifruit exporter Zespri.

External relations manager Nick Kirton said Zespri thought it was important to celebrate and promote the success of exporting companies from the region.

"The awards are not just about fun, style and laughter - although those feature strongly in its amazing annual awards nights. It's about recognising success and encouraging exporters to connect and learn from each other to achieve more. We're looking forward to this year's event."

Sharp Tudhope Lawyers has the distinction of being the longest-serving sponsor, having supported the awards from their inception.

"We've had a longstanding involvement in the export industry and we recognise its importance to the local economy," Sharp Tudhope partner Kylie van Heerden said.

"It's something we've always been very proud to be part of and keen to support."

United Travel is another long-serving sponsor, which is now in its 21st year supporting the awards. Co-owner Kay Rogers said ExportNZ BOP was an organisation that benefited all businesses in the community.

"We feel real pride to have had the emerging exporter category award for so long," she said. " And a lot of these businesses we've grown up with over many years. A lot of them started off as fledgling operations just as we did and it's great to see them grow and survive. They support us and we support the business community back by our long association with the awards."

BOP Export Award nominations are open in the following five categories:

* Exporter of the Year - Sponsored by Sharp Tudhope Lawyers

* Service to Export - Sponsored by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise

* Export Achievement - Sponsored by Beca

* Innovation in Export - Sponsored by Page Macrae Engineering

* Emerging Exporter of the Year - Sponsored by United Travel Business

Bay of Plenty Export Awards 2016:

* Date: Friday, June 24, 2016

* Venue: ASB Baypark, Mount Maunganui

* Tickets: http://www.bopexportnzawards.org.nz