Tourism leaders have welcomed the recent announcement to develop Christchurch’s new convention centre, after international investment was confirmed this month.

“We’re thrilled to have confirmation of the development and operation of Christchurch’s new convention centre, set to open in 2017,” Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism CEO, Tim Hunter, said.

The Convention Centre Precinct (CCP) will be located on the block defined by Armagh Street, Oxford Terrace, Worcester Street and Colombo Street; and Gloucester Street will become part of the precinct itself.

In this location, the CCP will connect to The Square, Victoria Square and the Avon River Precinct and there will be day-to-day activities at ground level on all sides. Beyond the convention complex, the precinct is likely to combine hotel accommodation, hospitality, retail, and commercial and residential uses.

Hotel group, Accor, has been selected as the preferred operator for the master-planning and development stage of the centre, while Plenary Conventions New Zealand (a consortium of international infrastructure firm Plenary Group and experienced local firms Ngai Tahu Property, and Carter Group) has been selected as the preferred development consortium for this very large project.

Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau manager Caroline Blanchfield said the announcement means the bureau can now actively pursue large international conferences for Christchurch.

“We already have significant interest in events wanting to book at least three years out. Now we have the certainty to go out and sell Christchurch on this scale.

“It’s going to be versatile and connected to a vibrant city centre with major hotel development attached to it. It’s exactly what we are after and gives us the go-ahead to ramp up our marketing of the city.”

Ms Blanchfield said the bureau works closely with Tourism New Zealand to attract international conferencing business.

“Government support of the business events sector and increased funding to Tourism New Zealand has boosted international promotion of this country’s unique meeting, conference and incentive travel offerings.”

In recent weeks the city has won two international conference bids.

The 20th Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors (PAQS) Congress will bring 400 delegates to Christchurch in May 2016, and the city will host 80 international delegates to the ECCA (Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis) Symposium in 2015.

Tourism New Zealand’s international business events manager, Bjoern Spreitzer, said the new convention centre will attract more high-value visitors to the South Island in the off-peak season and boost the country’s reputation abroad.

“With an outstanding venue in a lively central city precinct, Christchurch is helping put New Zealand on the map as a world-class business events destination.”