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NZ 'not on the radar' for international conventions

New Zealand lost an opportunity to host a major international conference worth more than $30 million because there is not a facility big enough here. 

And industry experts say there are more not coming for similar reasons. 

 

A 2020 conference, which would have brought more than 10,000 anaesthetists here from around the world, was pitched by the New Zealand host society on the basis a national convention centre would be operational by then.

 

But the political backlash of the government's "pokies for convention centre" deal with SkyCity led organisers to doubt it would be ready in time. 

 

The conference will be held in Prague in the Czech Republic instead. 

 

Based on an estimated daily spend of $450 per delegate, plus tourism activity, the conference would have generated about $31.5m. 

 

NZ Society of Anaesthetists president Dr Rob Carpenter says they put together a strong case to host the conference. 

 

"Feedback from the selection panel following our failed bid stated the lack of concrete, definite details on a venue was a key reason for New Zealand not being awarded the hosting rights."  

 

Tracey Thomas, owner of conference organising company Conference Innovators, says it was a bold move for the society to even bid for the event. 

 

New Zealand is not on the radar for many international conferences because of the lack of a large centre. 

 

"A lot of them we would not even bid for because it would be a waste of time," he says. 

 

Conventions and Incentives NZ chief executive Alan Trotter says no New Zealand facility could reasonably hold a conference for more than 2000 people. 

 

About 45% of the international convention market would be of that size, or larger. 

 

"The economic benefits of having a national convention centre in Auckland would be around $90m a year." 

 

Mr Trotter says the International Bar Association conference will not return here because of the lack of a convention centre. 

 

It held a conference at the Aotea Centre in Auckland about five years ago, and while it was mostly successful, the organisers had to erect an enormous marquee in Aotea Square to host social events during the conference, he says. 

 

"That cost them nearly $250,000. They said that was a killer cost in terms of their bottom line."  

 

Because of that the association decided future conferences would only be held in cities with a suitable convention centre.

 

"That is a perfect example of a piece of business that will never come back here because we don't have a facilities," Mr Trotter says.

More by Caleb Allison

Comments and questions
17

Oh please. We are 12 hours away from everywhere, and 20+ hours flights from almost everywhere.
There are plenty of things we are best in the world at, but central location and hence conferences is not one of them. Please let's invest this money in something useful.

When you say "Let's invest this money elsewhere"... it's not tax payer funds being invested, it's likely to be coming from a commercial enterprise - that has huge benefits for the entire Region... as the article points out.

Go the conference centre! Every little bit helps... and for the naysayers bleating about more gambling addiction - poppycocks! Gamblers can already get their "addiction fix" from numerous places so a few more pokie machines here or there aint gonna cure stupidity with someone's penchant for losing their money when gambling.

If gambling wasn't a gamble - it would be called "loosing" although the spin doctors prefer the term "gaming"...

No government can legislate against stupidity though - even if Auntie and Bradford passed a few useless laws...

The fact we are so distant didn't seem to dampen the attitude that people would come to the Rugby World Cup.

I would rather have a group of intelligent professionals here than a bunch of drunken sports fans.

The largest group came from Australia 3 hours away.

I almost forgot, other than turning grass into meat or milk, what are we good at?

Rugby. We are good at rugby. And destination tourism. And high tech. And "everything else" as Prof Callaghan put it so eloquently.

Big Deal! So what if 10,000 anaesthetists won't come back here for another conference; they're a bunch of crashing bores, who'd sent you to sleep.

The reason we dont have such a conference centre is that no-one in the private sector thinks they could make any money from having one here and running it.

If the private sector hasnt thought it makes economic sense thusfar then the public sector should stay WELL clear of funding it.

Two words: WHITE ELEPHANT.

What part of Skycity Limited building this Convention Centre and being a part of the private sector does this reader not understand ??? If they didn't think they could make a go of it - they wouldn't be discussing this with government now.

NZ cannot grow and develop further without investing in new infrastructure - let Skycity get on with it, and lets stop quibbling over a nonexistent social cost. With only 0.6% of the whole population of NZ with a gaming problem - this is all just a bit silly, and a load of political hot-air.

Are you dim or what! Skycity will only do it if they can subsidise it via all those extra pokies. Lets see them offer to do it without the extra pokies.
No, I thought not.

Agree with your comments Sky City will only do this for the extra revenue from more pokies.

The question is who makes up the cost - extra gamblers, the lose of machines in other establishments (so the charities they support) and the taxpayer - more problem gambling and or lower contributions to charities which have an impact.

We missed out on $30m because Sky City was not guaranteed - nothing to do with the fact that at 3,500 capacity the only way to run the 10,000 person event we missed out on would have been to had day, afternoon and night shifts working.

Australia does not have a convention centre big enough to take the lost convention. If they did spend a lot of time on pitching for the event what a total waste - basic facts would have told them that.

This story sent me to sleep.

With those big numbers how are we going at accommodate them?
How are we going to accommodate 10000 in Auckland?
Are we not better to go for smaller ones that we can accommodate - please also remember we have the conference facilities for small ones at the Viaduct!

Big ones will kill regular tourism when they happen!

Have you heard of ASB Showgrounds in Greenlance, Auckland? They could easily handle a convention this size.

Lets beat everything down instead of getting ahead, that's the true kiwi way!!!

Even if the convention centre is offered for free to host events. I wonder how many would come here to host events?

I feel the stats these guys worked out to put across their point is very flattering.