New Zealand venue ambitions target Asia meetings market

New Zealand is seeking to make its mark when bidding in the Asia-Pacific conference market with two new convention centres planned for Auckland and Christchurch.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand chief executive, Sue Sullivan, says the new centres will help boost the country’s convention capabilities, particularly when it comes to offering larger venues. “It will give us the ability to tap into markets we've been shut out of in the past because we simply haven't had venues big enough to cater to their needs,” says Sullivan.

“A facility in Auckland catering for 3,000 delegates will allow New Zealand to host conferences of a size not seen here before,” says Sullivan, adding that this will enable the country to become “an international player, challenging Australia and Southeast Asia for lucrative convention business”.

Facilities in Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington are also in various stages of planning.

“New Zealand is working to become a major player in the international convention business,” Sullivan says. “We have some very exciting opportunities ahead of us.”

Casino and event facility operator SkyCity is prepared to invest more than $402.3 million in the Auckland project subject to its board's final approval, according to Conventions and Incentives New Zealand. A resources application is also expected to go before Auckland Council in March 2015. 

Wellington City Council has pledged to open a convention centre as a key piece of infrastructure in the city's drive for economic growth. Two sites close to Wellington's waterfront are being considered.

Sullivan says there are at least 83 conferences on the international circuit that the country is missing out on because it doesn’t have a venue large enough. 

New Zealand's ranking as a destination for hosting business events is up four places on the previous year and sits just outside the world’s top 50.

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