Hilton Wellington Convention Centre - concept image - EDITED

Wellington is set to get a new 2500-capacity convention centre and five-star Hilton hotel after the project was given the green light by Wellington City Council last night (Nov 5).

Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) Chief Executive, David Perks, says the Wellington Convention Centre is set to be a “game changer” for the city’s business events sector.

“The Wellington Convention Centre is forecast to bring up to NZD$25 million in new spending to the city each year, contributing to significant GDP growth and creating in excess of 200 new jobs,” he said.

A new 165-room Hilton Wellington has been proposed to be built adjacent to the convention centre, bringing a new 5-star hotel to the city.

Hilton Worldwide’s Vice President of Australasia, Ashley Spencer, exclusively told Spice the company was looking forward to the opportunity of operating a hotel in the New Zealand capital.

“Hilton Worldwide has a long standing interest in furthering our footprint in New Zealand,” he said. “We believe strongly in the potential of Wellington as a meetings and events destination, and we would be happy to be involved in the hotel and convention centre in the city.”

The NZD$100 million project, being developed by Mark Dunajtschik, is located opposite Te Papa Museum, across from the city’s waterfront, has an expected opening date of 2017.

Wellington City Council has agreed to a 20-year lease of the convention centre space and Perks said the development would see the capital jump ahead of other convention centre developments around New Zealand.

“Wellington City Council are taking action at the right time,” Perks said. “Central government recognises the value of international business events and is directing resource into securing more. Having a bespoke facility in the country’s culture capital as early as 2017 perfectly positions Wellington to capitalise on this activity.

Wellington’s compact city experience makes the city ideal for business events, he said.

“Wellington’s geography concentrates our venues, accommodation and entertainment precinct within an easily walkable CBD, and puts nature almost literally on delegates’ doorstep,” Perks said.

“Previously there have been limits on the nature of conferences to which we’ve been able to put that attractive proposition. The Convention Centre opens up a whole new range of potential business,” he said.

In the year-ended to June 2013 there were 161,292 conference delegate days in Wellington, responsible for an estimated economic impact of NZD$115 million. The Wellington Convention Centre has the potential to facilitate more than 57,000 additional delegate days.

“The Business Events Wellington team has already been speaking with potential users about the proposal, which has been met with significant interest,” Perks said. “Now the project is confirmed, we look forward to putting together bids and locking in new business for the region in the near future.”

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) has also welcomed the decision by Wellington City Council to approve the project.

CINZ Chief Executive Sue Sullivan said the news is another boost for New Zealand’s reputation as a growing and exciting business events destination.

“Having a state of the art, purpose built and professionally run international facility in Wellington lifts the bar for the whole of New Zealand,” she said.

“We congratulate the Council, the developers and people of Wellington for recognising this opportunity and setting their sights on a world-class facility.”

Sullivan said Wellington has many advantages as a convention destination, but has needed the infrastructure to take it to the next level.

“Wellington is the geographic centre of New Zealand, the base of a high number of associations, with a good range of accommodation, easy access to government, and it’s a walkable city. But it’s been lacking good sized, purpose-built convention facilities configured to meet modern and future needs and expectations,” she said.

“The new convention centre will certainly meet and exceed those expectations and promises huge benefits for the city and the country.”

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management