The World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) is heading to New Zealand for the first after Wellington won the rights to host the 78th annual event in 2020.

Legendary Game of Thrones author George RR Martin will headline the event as the Toastmaster, which will run from July 29 to August 2.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said it was great that the city could attract such a high-profile event.

"It's great the city can attract such a high-profile convention and I'm sure it will be a roaring success that local businesses will benefit from," Lester said.

"Wellington is home to some of New Zealand's best creative talent and we will do our best to ensure the delegates find the city a home away from home."

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The event is expected to bring 2000 visitors to the Wellington region and deliver $4 million to the economy.

Stephen England-Hall, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, said the event will showcase the country.

"The high-profile event will showcase New Zealand as a fantastic host destination and a place where creative thinking is embraced," England-Hall said.

"It is an excellent opportunity for Wellington and New Zealand to show how well we host large-scale global events."

Securing hosting rights has been eight years in the making for co-chairs Norman Cates and Kelly Buehler.

"We are utterly thrilled to bring some of the great names in science fiction to New Zealand to meet their Kiwi fans and to give our amazing creators here at home their time to shine on an international stage," Buehler said.

Worldcon, which was first held in 1939, is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and has run continuously since 1946.

The 2020 event has been named CoNZealand and will be held at multiple venues across the city, including TSB Arena, Shed 6, the Michael Fowler Centre, and Intercontinental Wellington.