The Western Australian Government has announced major refurbishment plans for Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, including opening it out to the adjacent Swan River.
The ambitious plans are yet to be costed, but in the works is a concept to maximise its positioning next to the river and add 4500 square metres to the existing 16,500 square metres of event space.
Built in 2004, the venue has been derided for its lack of access to Swan River, however the new plans are set to turn it into a world-class architectural design.
Included in the plans are three new jetties; a pedestrian bridge connecting PCEC to Elizabeth Quay; restaurants, bars and cafes along the promenade; and a floating theatre stage.
Western Australian Premier Roger Cook says the state government has entered formal negotiations with PCEC’s joint leaseholders, Brookfield and Wylie Group.
“If we are going to attract prosperous business events to Perth, we need to continue to upgrade the facilities we make available to them,” he says.
“Our city deserves better than a shed on the river and this will right a historic wrong [referencing the current design].”
Western Australian Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti says upgrading PCEC will boost the city’s ability to compete for major business events.
“It’s clear Western Australia needs an upgraded convention centre to compete with other states and draw in tourists to WA,” she says.
Tourism Council of Western Australia chief executive Evan Hall says redeveloping PCEC is well overdue, with his organisation first calling for the venue to be expanded in 2016.
“Perth has the oldest convention exhibition facility of any capital city in Australia,” he says.
“Every other city has upgraded and expanded its facilities at least once, if not twice, since PCEC was opened.
“Currently, Perth is losing out to second-tier business event destinations such as Adelaide, Geelong and Darwin that have invested in expanding their convention and exhibition centres.
“We have a world-class stadium, airport, casino and hotel offering, but the missing piece is a world-class convention and exhibition centre, and new attractions and activities around the Perth CBD and Swan River.”
The Australian Hotels Association (WA) has welcomed news of PCEC redevelopment plans.
“PCEC’s age of infrastructure and venue capability restrictions present increasing challenges to secure major national and international meetings for Western Australia in a highly competitive global marketplace,” says AHA(WA) CEO Bradley Woods.
“Redevelopment of PCEC into a world-class facility will attract significant large-scale international and domestic conferences and exhibitions, which Perth has missed out on over many years.
“The conferences and exhibition industry adds significant value to Western Australia’s economy. The state’s hotels, bars, pubs, restaurants and tourism venues are major beneficiaries of a successful conference and events industry.”