International Convention Centre – “The gains from this will be widespread”

The Heads of Agreement confirming an International Convention Centre will be built in central Auckland is exactly the positive boost Auckland and New Zealand needs, says Michael Barnett, head of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

“Having an international convention centre will lift New Zealand up the value chain not just for hosting large global events, but as an attractor for investment, new businesses and flow on tourism impacts across the whole country.”

Clearly, there are some social matters around SkyCity’s management of pokies that will need to be secured and closely monitored.

“But the bottom line is that SkyCity’s offer to build the convention centre at no cost to tax payers or rate payers for free – in the centre of Auckland, near top accommodation, transport and restaurants – is a game changer.

“The gains from this will be widespread – not only some 1500 jobs during the construction phase, but for tourism – hotels, food and beverage sector, transport, tourism packages to visit provincial centres, and branding New Zealand internationally.

Conferences and conventions also hold enormous potential for generating shoulder and off-season demand. Business events generate high expenditure, often include leisure travel add-ons and do not demand capacity in the peak season, noted Mr Barnett

However, he added a cautionary note – “We still need to turn the Heads of Agreement into a contract, confirm a construction start date, and Auckland Council has an important role to facilitate the consent process. Together with the important social issues, these concerns must be worked through in a measured way with speed and urgency, and which the Chamber of Commerce fully intends maintaining a close eye on.”

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