The business events and tourism industries have welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that a new state-of-the-art convention centre will be built in Christchurch in a prime central location near the Avon river.
The planned new convention centre for Christchurch will bring millions of dollars into the city and give the tourism industry confidence to move forward, industry leaders say.
Covering 24,000 sqm the convention centre will be able to cater for up to 2,000 delegates and will be configured so that as many as three events can be run simultaneously. It will also include two hotels and retail on the ground floor.
“This is the news we have been waiting for and we’re thrilled there is now some certainty around the planned new convention centre,” says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter.
“The new convention centre will form the core of our tourism and hospitality sector and is going to be a catalyst for further hospitality-related investment. Hotel investors have been holding off on making decisions about where they’re going to build until a decision on the location of the convention centre had been made, but now they can start actively planning for the future.”
Hunter says pre-quake conferences were pumping around $80m a year into the Canterbury economy. It was predicted the new convention centre would provide the opportunity to grow conference and convention business by at least 40 per cent.
Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau manager Caroline Blanchfield says the announcement means the bureau can now actively pursue large international conferences for Christchurch.
“This ticks all the boxes for conference organisers and fits what the convention industry is looking for in New Zealand. It will significantly improve our ability to attract trade shows and consumer exhibitions at a national level.
“It’s versatile and connected to a vibrant city centre with provision for major hotel development around it. It’s exactly what we were after and gives us the confidence to ramp up our marketing of the city,” Blanchfield says.
Conventions and Incentives New Zealand chief executive Alan Trotter has also welcomed the plans for Christchurch’s new convention centre.
“New Zealand needs large state-of-the art convention centres if it is going to continue attracting international conferences so we’re thrilled the Government has given this project priority,” Trotter says.