INDEPENDENT NEWS

Dedicated convention centre for Auckland on track

Published: Wed 10 Oct 2001 02:57 PM
PRESS RELEASE
10 October 2001
Dedicated convention centre for Auckland on track
Auckland's dedicated convention centre is hopefully one step closer with the formation of an industry action group.
"Everyone agrees that the centre needs to be built, it's now a matter of a taking a cohesive approach and getting behind a specific design, in a specific location and addressing the funding issue," says Alan Trotter, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Convention Association (NZCA). "Two or three sites have been mooted and we need to narrow that down to one and present a firm proposal to council.
"I think that council also needs to be aware that there are people out there pushing for a convention centre who don't know the first thing about the industry. It should be the action group that they listen to and nobody else."
The decision to form the group was made at a seminar held last night in Auckland to discuss the issue. The keynote speaker was in international expert David Hall and about 70 people, including hotel representatives, conference organisers and politicians attended.
Mr Hall's message to Auckland was strong and clear - do it and do it now.
"The question shouldn't be 'can we afford to build it', it should be 'can we not afford to build it'. It's simple, Auckland needs to built a dedicated convention centre to compete in the fierce global market. At the moment meeting organisers are spoilt for choice and if Auckland can't offer a top venue they will simply go elsewhere," he says.
"It's a lucrative market with economic spin-offs for the entire country. Meeting delegates spend three times as much as leisure tourists, with more than a third returning to the country for a holiday. A recent survey done in Adelaide shows that 39.6 percent of a conference delegate's dollar spend goes to accommodation, 19 percent shopping and 16.5 percent to restaurants. So everyone benefits."
Mr Hall says that the meeting market is a valuable one. The Australian meeting market has increased from AUD$450 million in 1987 to be worth AUD$7 billion this year.
"The potential for growth in New Zealand is also there, but it won't happen without a new dedicated facility in Auckland. Having a purpose built centre doesn't give your destination a marketing edge, it simply makes you competitive.
"I also think that Australia is the sleeping giant as a potential meeting market for New Zealand, but again the business won't grow without a dedicated facility."
Mr Hall likens Auckland to Adelaide in population terms, where Australia's first dedicated convention centre was built nearly 15 years ago. It recently opened its second extension, which is expected to directly benefit the economy by AUD$57 million each year by 2005 and provide 970 jobs.
Mr Hall also stressed the crucial importance of the convention centre's location saying that it must be within easy walking distance of major hotels, a flexible layout, functional and display the best New Zealand architecture.
Mr Trotter agrees wholeheartedly that the missing piece of the puzzle in Auckland is a dedicated convention centre and says that it's vital for the convention industry nationwide.
"As tragic as the recent events in North America have been, the current climate of uncertainty plays right into New Zealand's hands for generating more convention business, but as David has pointed out to be a player in the global market we need the right facilities. And obviously the sooner the better, this issue has been kicking around for far too long."
Mr Trotter says that he hopes the action group will hold its first meeting within the next few weeks.
For further information contact Mr Trotter on 486-4128 or 025-982-833 or NZCA PR Manager Tracey Mehrtens on 025-233-0604.

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