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Boost NZ economy with national convention centre

3 October 2008

Boost NZ economy with national convention centre

A new national convention centre would help boost both the slowing tourism industry and the wider New Zealand economy, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

A convention centre built to international standards in Auckland would attract a major new sector of business travellers, delivering direct economic benefits, TIA Chief Executive Tim Cossar says.

This is a top priority in the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto which outlines the tourism industry’s priorities for the incoming government.

“Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) estimates that the sector is now worth $1 billion a year, of which $250 million comes from international conference delegates. The average international conference delegate spends $650 every day they are in New Zealand, compared to the average daily visitor spend of just $130,” Mr Cossar says.

“Yet New Zealand doesn’t have the infrastructure to host conferences larger than 1200-1500 delegates – unlike Australia where nearly all the major cities have modern convention centres able to host as many as 2500 delegates.”

Without a purpose-built convention and exhibition centre, New Zealand lags well behind our competitors in the Asia-Pacific region, he says.

Conferences have the added benefit of generally occurring during New Zealand’s winter period, so boost low and shoulder season travel. There is also a valuable contribution to New Zealand through the transfer of knowledge, education and innovation highlighted at prestigious international medical and scientific congresses.

“Investing in a national convention centre would be a tangible way for the incoming government to show its commitment to the business sector, as well as the $20.1 billion tourism industry,” Mr Cossar says.

Tourism Auckland Chief Executive Graeme Osborne says the lack of a globally competitive national convention centre is the most obvious gap in New Zealand’s tourism infrastructure. The availability of considerable support services in Auckland and its good connections to international markets would likely mean a national convention centre was built there, but it would benefit the entire country.

Incentivising port authorities and local government to improve cruise ship port facilities is also a major priority in the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto. Like conventions, cruises are a fast-growing sector that attract high spending visitors.

“Cruise passengers poured a total of $406 million into New Zealand’s economy during the 2007-08 season yet we greet them with substandard facilities at a number of ports of call around New Zealand. Upgrading is urgently needed to reflect the quality destination New Zealand really is.”

World-class facilities would help grow this burgeoning sector and generate increased passenger spending.

“None of the major political parties has yet released their tourism policies. Helping grow the tourism industry will ultimately benefit the government’s own coffers so we await with interest to see what commitments Labour and National will make to our goals for tourism infrastructure improvements,” Mr Cossar says.

Top priorities in the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto
The tourism industry is calling for the incoming government to:

1. Recognise tourism as a bedrock of New Zealand’s economy - Establish a Tourism Industry Taskforce to drive a whole-of-government approach to issues affecting the industry and ensure the tourism portfolio is managed by a top ranking Minister.

2. Market Destination New Zealand - Increase public sector investment for targeted offshore promotions to markets of strategic importance to New Zealand and for improved marketing efforts in the domestic market.

3. Invest in vital infrastructure - Invest in a national convention centre, cruise ship port facilities and other infrastructure improvements required to reduce seasonality and increase spending from visitors to New Zealand.

4. Improve New Zealand’s environmental performance - Enhance New Zealand’s environmental performance and the capabilities of its tourism industry to deliver on the 100% Pure New Zealand brand promise.

5. Invest in training and work skills initiatives - Ensure New Zealand’s tourism businesses have the people they need to do business and to deliver a high quality visitor experience.

6. Boost the return from major events - Maximise the return to New Zealand of the Rugby World Cup 2011 and other major event opportunities.

Read the Tourism Industry Election Manifesto at

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