Auckland city at night

All corners of New Zealand’s tourism industry have welcomed the approval of the new national convention centre in Auckland.

The new international convention centre in Auckland will create substantial economic benefits for the whole country, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

Welcoming the announcement of a deal between the Government and SKYCITY, TIA Chief Executive Martin Snedden says the new international-scale convention centre will benefit both the tourism industry and the wider New Zealand economy.

“This will allow New Zealand to target a new and lucrative market, for large international conferences which we do not currently have the ability to host. We have lagged behind Australia and other international destinations which have major convention facilities,” he says.

“This is a completely untapped market segment for New Zealand, and will help us boost shoulder and low season travel.”

It is estimated a national convention centre will boost New Zealand’s economy by more than NZD$90 million a year. It is expected to create 1000 jobs during construction and another 800 positions when it is operational.

It will also support many more jobs across the economy, including in the accommodation, catering, transport and retail sectors.

“Many conference delegates will travel around New Zealand before or after their events, while others will choose to return with their families for private holidays,” Snedden says.

The Government has recognised the value of business events, with Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key recently announcing new spending of NZD$34 million over four years to attract conferences, conventions and exhibitions.

Conference delegates are high-spending visitors, spending an average ofNZD$318 a night, compared to an international leisure visitor who spends around NZD$208 a night.

“While we acknowledge that there are genuine concerns about issues related to problem gambling, we are confident that the legislative process will provide an opportunity for a thorough examination of the issues.”

TIA has long been advocating for an international convention centre, supported by a network of regional convention centres. The new convention centres planned for Christchurch and Queenstown will support the growth of New Zealand’s business tourism market.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) says the international convention centre is desperately needed and long overdue.

The business tourism advocacy group is welcoming news the government has signed a Heads of Agreement with SkyCity to build a new international convention centre in Auckland.

“This is great news for Auckland and for the country as a whole,” says CINZ chief executive Alan Trotter.

“An international convention centre is something we’ve sorely needed for many years and it is fantastic that finally we’re making headway. What we need to do now is keep the foot on the accelerator and get this facility built as soon as possible.

“An international convention centre will have a positive economic impact that extends far beyond the boundaries of Auckland City. Many of the delegates who will attend conferences and conventions at the international convention centre will also take the opportunity to travel to other parts of New Zealand so the spin-offs will be felt across the country.

“Convention delegates spend more than other international visitors to New Zealand, typically around NZD$400 a day, which is about twice as much as leisure visitors. They also come at a time of year when tourism tends to be quiet so they are very important to our industry.”

Trotter says the convention delegates are also valuable to New Zealand because of the knowledge and expertise they bring to the country.

“The types of international conferences we will be able to host in the new convention centre tend to attract the best and the brightest in their fields. Those people will bring a wealth of knowledge with them, which we will be able to tap into. You can’t put a dollar value on that but it’s something that will bring us benefits in the long-term,” he says.

“I really applaud the government for their innovative and pragmatic approach to the challenge of building an international convention centre in these tough economic times. It’s going to be great for our country and for our economy so the fact they have managed to do it without imposing any extra costs on either Auckland ratepayers or the New Zealand tax-payer is truly laudable,” Trotter says.

Air New Zealand has also welcomed the announcement that an agreement has been reached between the Government and Skycity for a national convention centre to be built in Auckland, subject to the necessary legislative approvals.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Luxon, says: “The planned national convention centre, with its capacity of 3,500, will allow New Zealand to compete to host larger conferences, providing access to a new market that we are currently disadvantaged in due to a lack of appropriately sized infrastructure.

“As an airline based in New Zealand, which has relatively small volumes of business traffic, the conventions market is very important to us and one which we actively target in Australia, Asia and North America. The 33,000 extra delegates a year the centre is predicted to attract is a significant increase,” he says.

Next month Air New Zealand will fly 80 Australian conference organisers and organisations considering New Zealand as a venue for their next meeting to Auckland for the Meetings 2013 trade show, alongside buyers from Asia.

“In addition to the increased international visitors and foreign exchange earnings that are forecast to result from the development of a national convention centre, a key benefit is that conferences are held throughout the year which will help reduce seasonal variations in demand for travel to New Zealand,” Luxon says.

ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development) says it is pleased with the potential economic growth impact for Auckland generated by a New Zealand International Convention Centre being built in the city.

As Auckland’s economic growth agency, ATEED has shown support for the development of an international scale Convention Centre in Auckland’s CBD, as part of the Council’s 10 year Visitor Plan, approved in 2011, which forecasts the sector contributing NZD$6.6 billion to the regional economy by 2021.

ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says the establishment of a world-class facility at SKYCITY is a welcome addition to the Auckland visitor economy, providing a boost to the business events sector and likely stimulating investment in new infrastructure and services, including hotels and new attractions.

“Conventions and incentives delegates are high value visitors who deliver good economic returns. They have a long length of stay, often visit during the tourism low season and have a higher spend per night,” he says.

“We are delighted with the opportunities this will bring to the region. It will allow Auckland to compete strongly against other international cities and secure major conventions that we would otherwise miss out on.”

An International Convention Centre is projected to generate NZD$85 to NZD$100 million of new foreign exchange earnings in the first year, based on a capacity of 3,500 delegates. An international convention delegate spends around $365 per night, compared to an average spend of $200 per night for international leisure visitors.

“As well as being able to showcase Auckland as a preferred destination for conventions, we will also be looking to maximise opportunities for pre and post visitor itineraries that will bring even bigger economic benefits,” O’Riley says.

“And having the leaders of global companies in our city for their conventions opens an opportunity to present Auckland as a great place to invest and to support our aim of becoming an Asia Pacific innovation hub.”

O’Riley says the International Convention Centre will be a positive signal to investors who we know are already interested in hotel development, and are analyzing future demand trends.

“Business events, and Auckland’s Major Events Strategy are changing Auckland’s visitor arrival profile, and will continue to reduce seasonal impacts on hotel demand. As an example, in April 2013 ATEED saw the combination of the ITU Triathlon, ITM 400 V8 Supercars, TRENZ and existing business events increase hotel demand in the city. The new International Convention Centre at SKYCITY will add to this trend,” he says.

“This is a major economic growth opportunity for the Auckland economy – tourism is already the largest employment sector with 54,360 employees, representing 8.7 percent of the regional workforce.”

This announcement comes shortly after the Government confirmed that it will invest NZD$34 million over four years into the international business events sector.

“Our region has so much potential and I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with SKYCITY, Tourism New Zealand and industry association CINZ (Conventions & Incentives New Zealand) to maximise the opportunities and continue to grow the important business events sector for Auckland and New Zealand,” O’Riley says.