The conference industry has lashed out at the National Government for the cancellation of two conferences since the election, saying it should support the $1 billion industry and not be trying to destroy it.
The latest cancellation is a primary healthcare sector conference in Wellington next month, after a review ordered by Health Minister Tony Ryall, on the grounds that it would cost $123,000 and that GPs are also having a conference within weeks of it.
But the chief executive of Conventions and Incentives NZ, Alan Trotter, said the Government was sending "completely the wrong message".
It was tarnishing the industry and sending the message that conferences were a waste of time and money, except for its own conference - next month's jobs summit.
"A summit is a conference," he said.
"The Government should be supporting the industry, not trying to destroy it."
The reason that Prime Minister John Key had called the jobs conference rather than canvassing participants for their ideas was because he would not get the same outcomes as face-to- face meetings in a conference-type environment.
"What's the difference between what the health industry were trying to do and what he is trying to do?"
Mr Trotter said he was not suggesting the Government should be signing off "junkets" but it should be leading the way with economic stimulation.
The economy benefited by about $300 million through the international conferences held in New Zealand and that was underpinned by a good domestic conference industry.
The Ministry of Health had 311 registrations from a wide range of people within the primary health sector, including GPs.
The Ministry of Health and District Health Boards New Zealand is now assessing the cost of cancelling the conference, which could include reimbursement for non-refundable air fares booked by the hundreds of would-be participants who have already registered.
The New Zealand Medical Association chairman Peter Foley said GPs had not found previous conferences "particularly useful".
"It seemed a waste of valuable funds and professional time to have this conference proceed so close to the more focused seminar planned by the College of GPs."
But Health Care Aotearoa, representing not-for-profit healthcare services, said the sudden axing of the conference was a lost opportunity to meet with other health professionals.
Co-leader Rowena Gotty said: "Conferences such as this help to ensure that all those involved in primary healthcare - doctors, nurses, community and iwi health workers, ministry and district health broad employees - can exchange information and are up to play when it comes to best practice and service delivery."
Conventions and Incentives NZ has 350 members, including hotels, airlines and conference organisers.