New Zealand has welcomed the recent announcement of yet another convention centre, this time in Wellington.

From few dedicated convention centres to recent announcements in Queenstown and Auckland, Wellington has now followed suit,  with the city council approving a purpose-built five-star centre in the New Zealand capital, with an opening date of 2017.

In a meeting in early November, Wellington City Council voted 13/2 to approve the deal, with the council leasing the facility from developer Mark Dunajtschik, and the Hilton Corporation named as the operator.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the decision was a huge win for the capital’s economic development, providing revenue and jobs for at least the next 20 years under the terms of the lease.

“This decision makes it clear Wellington City Council is active in the economic development of the capital,” she said.

“The council is enabling a project that will protect and generate around $21 million a year net GDP. Construction will begin within months and the Wellington Convention Centre will open its doors in 2017. We’ll be well ahead of proposed developments in Auckland and Christchurch.”

In her statement Ms Wade-Brown said the New Zealand convention market was expanding with the support of Tourism NZ.

“A smart new building opposite Te Papa will be a huge improvement to the current gap in the urban fabric.”

The state-of-the-art 4400 square-metre facility would be able to host up to 1200 conference delegates and have a banqueting capacity for up to 1450 people. In theatre-style seating, the facility will be able to accommodate 2000 in the largest space.

The overall project will be financed by local developer Mark Dunajtschik, who is building it along with the 165-room hotel on the site in Cable Street. The council will lease the convention centre at an average net cost to the city of about $2.1 million a year over the lease term.

The council’s economic growth committee chair, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says this investment will inject cash, jobs and marketing opportunities into the capital’s economy, as well as protect the benefits received from Wellington’s current share of the country’s convention market. “The numbers confirm how important this deal is to Wellington. Currently our convention market generates $146 million per year and supports over 1000 full-time jobs,” she said.

“This new facility will grow jobs by over 200 full-time jobs and add $28.6 million in new expenditure, and will drive growth across associated areas like hospitality, tourism and the service sector.”

The public consultation process prior to the council vote was in favour with the overwhelming majority of submissions, including the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce, the Retailers Association and the Property Council voicing support for the convention centre.

CINZ welcomes announcement

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) chief executive Sue Sullivan says the news is another boost for New Zealand’s reputation as a growing and exciting business events destination.

“Having a state-of-the-art, purpose-built and professionally run international facility in Wellington lifts the bar for the whole of New Zealand,” Ms Sullivan said.

“We congratulate the council, the developers and people of Wellington for recognising this opportunity and setting their sights on a world-class facility.”

Ms Sullivan says Wellington has many advantages as a convention destination, but has needed the infrastructure to take it to the next level.

“Wellington is the geographic centre of New Zealand, the base of a high number of associations, with a good range of accommodation, easy access to government, and it’s a walkable city. But it’s been lacking good sized, purpose-built convention facilities configured to meet modern and future needs and expectations.

“The new convention centre will certainly meet and exceed those expectations and promises huge benefits for the city and the country.”