Wellington City Council has given the green light for the construction of a new Conference and Exhibition Centre, cementing the New Zealand capital’s future as a business events destination.
The 18,000-square-metre centre will feature 10,000 square metres of dedicated convention space spread across its top two floors and a ground-floor exhibition gallery to house touring exhibitions.
The three-year construction phase is set to begin in 2019.
David Perks, general manager of regional development destination and attraction at Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA), welcomed the council’s support.
“Wellington has always been competitive with the conference venues available in the city but the WCEC will take things to a new level,” he said.
“It will enable the city to not only retain its current share of conferences but also put in bids for larger international conferences that would simply have been too big for existing venues.
“It will put us on an equal footing with Auckland and Christchurch who both have conference venues under construction, and the Australian market where all major cities have purpose-built convention facilities.”
Business and Economic Research’s business case for the new convention centre estimates it will host 111 new events annually, delivering nearly 149,000 new delegate days to Wellington.
“Add in the fact that the exhibition space is expected to attract over 272,000 annual visitors, generating an additional $3.8 million in direct visitor spend in Wellington, and it’s easy to see the value the WCEC will bring to Wellington,” said Perks.
Anna Fennessy, global business events manager at Tourism New Zealand, said the development is a huge win for Wellington.
“International business events deliver a range of benefits beyond the significant economic contributions they provide to the local economy,” she said.
“They have the potential to generate long-lasting positive social change in our communities through the expert knowledge delegates bring with them and they allow Kiwis to share their expertise and knowledge too.
“The introduction of a large-scale conference venue for Wellington means these benefits will be absorbed across the region for years to come.”