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Handsome dividends for international conference infrastructure
January 2004

The Christchurch City Council's strategic decision in 1996 to invest in New Zealand's first international standard conferencing infrastructure, and the subsequent building of the $15.6 million Christchurch Convention Centre, has paid handsome dividends.

Ernst & Young estimates that the facility generates more than $50 million in economic benefit a year, so in the six years since it opened it has pumped over $300 million into the economy. And that's only the start of it, according to venue manager NCC (New Zealand) Ltd.

"Christchurch developed a venue that is over twice the size of the soon-to-be-opened Sky City facility as a positioning statement not just for New Zealand but for global niche marketing," said Mike Kelly, Executive Director for venue manager NCC (New Zealand) Ltd. "Recently Tourism New Zealand has begun to discuss attracting 'the ideal traveller' - one who has high financial value and low environmental impact. That's been our convention and meeting strategy from the outset. The higher yield niche market is where we invest our energy."

The Christchurch Convention Centre remains New Zealand's only purpose built venue, and can cater for conferences up to 2500 delegates, as it proved with events such as the International Union of Physiological Sciences 2001, Association of Operating Room Nurses 2001 and the Asian Retailers Conference and Exhibition 2003.

Conference attendees spend on accommodation, shopping, conference fees, entertainment, restaurants and other activities. The average daily spends for Asian delegates are around $442; about $320 for average spending from all delegates. There is direct employment of casual staff for events by both venue manager and SSL, the food and beverage supplier. Goods and services are provided, including house services such as cleaning and maintenance, fridges, lights and electrical, professional and technical services, and external providers such as theming and event coordinators, operational and security services.

Visitors and partners associated with conferences take full advantage of day trips, such as skiing, golf, fishing, jet boating, whale watching, cruises, thermal pools, wine trails and cultural activities. Transport operators notice when a large conference is in - taxis and shuttles, scenic flights, Tranzrail, car rentals and domestic airlines are all used pre, during and post-conference.

Christchurch is the only city able to host a mid-sized (1200 - 1500) fully-fledged international convention, or conference and exhibition, on the one site. Cathy Hemsworth, Director Sales & Marketing for NCC (New Zealand) Ltd, says New Zealand has now well and truly woken up to the benefits of such a purpose built venue.

"Industry leaders in Auckland have clearly identified the fundamental shift of international conference business to Christchurch, and we are taking full advantage of our opportunity. Our average conference size is 50% bigger than those held in Auckland, and we're getting three times more overseas convention delegates. Christchurch remains the only city in the country a venue large enough and offering the required international standard facilities, technical and professional services, and excellent catering."

"There are measurable tangible benefits but there are intangibles as well, such as goodwill, enhanced reputation, confidence for local businesses when they provide goods and services to a world-class standard, international network opportunities and business introductions," Cathy Hemsworth said. "There are obvious signs of activity, such as the large numbers of overseas visitors, glamorous gala events and dinners, and media attention on celebrities but less obvious are the increases in business expertise and operating standards within companies supplying goods and services, opportunities for the development of specialized services , enhanced networking in a global context and new business opportunities."

Specialized Canterbury and New Zealand foods and wine are served to thousands of overseas visitors each year, creating much interest in local products, especially seafoods, venison or cervena and varietal wines.

Cathy Hemsworth and her marketing team regularly travel throughout Australia, and the Asia-Pacific region promoting Christchurch and the Christchurch Convention Centre, Town Hall and Westpac Centre for Sport and Entertainment - all three venues managed by NCC (NZ) Ltd and owned by the Christchurch City Council.

"We've spent years building up our venue's service credibility and now that's sustained by great word of mouth reports from successful events. What really does work in our favour is the venue's proximity to more than 2000 hotel rooms, the easy access in from the international airport, the safe and walkable city centre, and the wonderful variety of day trips and activities for partners."

The Christchurch Convention Centre is marketed as a contemporary and sophisticated boutique venue in the ideal central city location, within walking distance of all major hotels and attractions. Selling features include the short 15 minute drive to the international airport, a wealth of multiple star hotels in the CBD, state of the art facilities, New Zealand's largest column-free conference flat floor space, 2300 and 1000 seat theatres linked by airbridge to the convention space and 10 breakout rooms.


For more information or images please contact Cathy on or or email