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Benefit to NZ too important for centre to be further delayed

Benefits to New Zealand too important for centre to be further delayed

Auckland Airport today welcomed the release of the Auditor General’s report into the process for developing a national convention centre, saying that the release of the report marks another milestone towards the eventual completion of a much-needed national convention centre.

Chief Executive of Auckland Airport, Adrian Littlewood, said, “We hope that this report signals the start of genuine progress. The opportunity to gain a large-scale international-quality convention centre from private investment, with the significant benefits it brings to the country, does not come along very often. Despite the tourism industry calling for such a centre for well over a decade now, and despite the various positive business cases for such a centre put forward by the public and private sector, until now a financially viable option had not been identified.”

“Because Auckland and New Zealand do not have a conference centre of sufficient scale to attract the big international conferences, we lose many opportunities each year to the cities like Melbourne and Brisbane that do. That means New Zealand misses thousands of additional visitors and millions of dollars in economic benefit each time. This has been the case for far too long now,” said Mr Littlewood. “As New Zealand becomes increasingly connected to the rapidly growing economies of Asia, the need for an international scale convention centre will only increase.”

An international conference centre is a significant gap in the current tourism and trade infrastructure and proposition in New Zealand, and the development of such a facility will offer considerable economic benefits by attracting more, higher-value, visitors. In addition, it would enable some of the aspirational visitor economy goals contained in the new Auckland Plan and in the goals of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development.

Mr Littlewood said, “Convention visitors are amongst the highest spending visitors per night, spending 4-5 times as much per night as the average daily visitor spend. In addition, conventions help improve shoulder and off-peak tourism, and encourage business and trade links between New Zealand and international delegates.

“As a tourism destination New Zealand is competing in an exceptionally tough global market. As a relatively small economy, New Zealand does not have the ability to fund all the investment in infrastructure needed to accommodate our national growth and living standard aspirations. Increasingly, this means that essential infrastructure investments such as this will require some level of private and public sector engagement. The tourism industry has been waiting a very long time for a national convention centre,” said Mr Littlewood, “let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture.”

ENDS

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