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.