End of Eight Year Monopoly on International Convention Centres in NZ is welcomed by Christchurch venue


NZ’s prospects in global meetings industry enhanced with Auckland & Christchurch venues


For eight years Christchurch has been able to market its Convention Centre as the country’s only purpose-built international standard convention venue but that advantage is about to alter with the opening of Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre later this year.


Mike Kelly, Executive Director of venue manager NCC (NZ) Ltd, has long argued that a second and larger convention venue was essential for the New Zealand meetings market. “Not least, it will better place New Zealand to meet the challenge of emerging markets in the exotic east,” he said.


“Trends in the business travel market, including conferences and trade shows, highlight how important it will be for New Zealand to strengthen its marketing in a very competitive industry.”


“Australia has taken an active and creative approach to business tourism and is now in the Top Ten list for world rankings for conventions and trade shows. The Business Events Council of Australia says such events generate $17.36 billion a year and create more than 200,000 jobs. In 2003 316,000 business events there involved nearly 23 million people.”


Mike Kelly said Singapore has been Asia’s Top Convention City for 21 years, with business travel accounting for 20% of all arrivals. “Hong Kong is the traditional leader in trade shows but is facing strong competition from the dynamic South China region which is developing as the manufacturing hub of the world. Trade shows there offer the great benefit of direct access to factories and the costs are much lower.”


There were several business models based on business travel throughout Asia. “Malaysia has strong government support and leadership, and has grown its professional industry networks. It offers all the ingredients for successful business tourism – political stability, safe destinations, infrastructure, accessibility plus the attractions of shopping, culture, great value prices and their world-famous service and standards of hospitality.”


Likewise, Thailand has the potential to overtake Singapore as the business travel hub due to its location and broad industrial base. It’s already home to significant regional exhibitions in metalwork, food processing, car parts, printing, gems and jewellery.And the stunningly beautiful Queen Sirikit Convention centre is undergoing a 5000 m2 expansion.”


 Mike Kelly said Vietnam has a longer term potential. “Hanoi is hosting the 2006 APEC Summit, and there will be new hotels and venues built for that which will raise awareness. It’s a very beautiful country and will have the novelty that business travel so eagerly seeks.”


Further afield, Dubai has invested mega-millions into infrastructure. It joined the world’s top list for business travel destinations with the 2003 World Bank Group meeting and now has the advantage of being a major aviation hub for more than 70 airlines. The small Perisian Gulf state of Qatar is spending $US15 billion to develop the country as a premier tourist destination.”


Mike Kelly said New Zealand will be far better placed to face these competitors with two international convention venues. “We will both be faced with the challenge of selling New Zealand as a destination first and foremost – the choice of which venue comes later. Larger conventions often have supplementary meetings in other centres. For instance, large medical conferences hosted at the Christchurch Convention Centre have had smaller meetings at Queenstown, Rotorua and other centres. New Zealand has to grow the cake so everyone gets a bigger slice.”