Stuart Turner, the head of EventScotland, is leaving to take up a post in New Zealand.

Turner, who during his time at the agency led the development of Scotland’s themed years and its national events strategy, is becoming head of major events at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

“It’ll be huge wrench to leave Scotland,” Turner told EventsBase. “I’m passionate about what I do. I’ve been fortunate enough to ‘play’ for Scotland throughout my career, working for sportscotland, Scottish Golf and latterly EventScotland.

“We have a great team here and fantastic partners in the industry; in the public, private and third sectors. It’s been just such a great bunch of people to work with,” he said. “But, for me it’s an opportunity to work abroad for a city with genuine international ambition. And I have grown up children but no grandchildren yet so there’s a window there!”

ATEED’s role is to create and develop events that attract visitors from the rest of New Zealand and surrounding countries such as Fiji, Samoa, Australia and Japan. A focus for Turner will also be events that draw visitors from further afield, such as Europe and America.

The organisation is understood to have been impressed by Scotland’s reputation for punching above its weight in the events sector. “The position is similar to mine currently, but obviously with a different geography,” said Turner. One difference, however, is that ATEED is partly funded by a tourism tax, a concept long-debated in Scotland.

Turner leaves EventScotland on 12 January and starts his new job on 1 February. As for his successor, it is understood that the agency will be looking at internal, Scotland-based and international candidates.