National convention centre network mooted by govt

The Government is testing the waters for developing a larger conference and conventions industry, raising the prospect of an international scale convention centre in Auckland costing hundreds of millions to build and capable of seating at least 3500 people.

The Ministry of Economic Development today released an expressions of interest document seeking views and ideas on the development of a National Business Events Strategy. Expressions of interest close on June 18.

Minister for Economic Development Gerry Brownlee said New Zealand was missing out on considerable economic benefits of such events.

"Conferences and conventions attract big-spending professionals, who like to experience more than just the conference. Capturing more of this high value expenditure would be of considerable benefit to the wider economy."

The most logical venue for an international scale convention centre was in Auckland, where a feasibility study estimated that almost 22,000 extra international visitors could be attracted, generating an estimated $85 million in tourism-related spending, Mr Brownlee said.

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand has been calling for such a convention centre in the Auckland CBD, estimated to cost about $350m.

Currently the country cannot host a conference larger than 1500 delegates.

Mr Brownlee said New Zealand would need a large scale capacity venue, alongside an enhanced network of complementary smaller venues throughout the country.

"We also want views on how convention venues can work together more collaboratively, as a national network -- from one end of the country to the other."

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