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Seven reasons I absolutely positively back the convention centre proposal

By David 8 Jul 2014

Positively Wellington Tourism has been heavily involved in the development of the business case for the proposed convention centre and hotel on Cable Street, opposite Te Papa. We’re confident the recommendation that’s been put on the table is right for our city and encourage our industry partners to review the proposal and have your say.

Here are seven reasons we back the proposal:

1. It provides a much-needed bespoke facility and adds to the variety of accommodation

While Wellington already has fantastic 5 Star hotels, it doesn’t have a hotel with an extra-large convention facility attached. The proposal – coupled with the major refurbishment underway at InterContinental Wellington and the new Sofitel on Bolton Street – would really strengthen the capital’s offering.

2. Size matters

When it comes to facility development, size does matter! What is smart about the proposal is that it takes into account the cost of construction and the best opportunities within the business events market. With about 2,500 square metres of flat floor space, the proposed facility could fit up to 2,500 people, but is really best suited to convention events of between 600-1,200 delegates. This capacity is both bigger than what Wellington can currently deliver, but importantly is in the range where the best opportunities lie to secure a vast range and regular stream of conferences being held by Australasian businesses and associations.

3. Wellington needs to keep ahead of the game

Other New Zealand cities are also currently considering convention centre developments. If Wellington does nothing while others take action, the city will undoubtedly go backwards. Our research shows the city would slip back in market share by between 8-13 percent, but the decline could be as significant as a 17 percent. In our $140m per annum convention business that kind of decline would hurt the whole city’s economy.

4. Being internationally competitive

We know our compact capital city, with quick access and attractive hospitality options, works well as a convention destination. Opening dedicated capacity – coupled with our ever increasing international profile - will help Wellington make the most of the increased funding the Government is now putting towards marketing New Zealand as a business events destination.

5. More jobs

The construction and operation will bring significant new employment to Wellington for hospitality professionals. Importantly the hotel and centre would also provide our tertiary education students with part-time work. The ease with which prospective students can find employment to support their studies is an important factor when they’re choosing where to study. A vibrant and growing tertiary sector is crucial to Wellington’s economy, both for its growth and retaining its reputation as a creative and innovative city to live in.

6. Build it and more will come

Experiences of other cities show when a new significant project gets underway there’s a tendency for secondary developments to follow. Other business investors look to make the most of the new opportunity created. The location of the proposed development close to Courtenay Place provides the opportunity for businesses in that vicinity to consider the changes in clientele they might see from more business people and event delegates coming to the city.

7. Innovative and low risk

It’s not often you can put innovative and low risk in the same sentence! The funding and operation proposed takes an innovative approach, avoiding the need for increased borrowing by Council and risks to ratepayers. It also offers the opportunity of a speedy development, with the centre proposed to be open in early 2017

The team that’s been working on the proposal, including myself, are keen to hear all your thoughts on the proposal as we look to take it to the next stage. I strongly encourage you to review the proposal and put forward your thoughts towards what is, in my opinion, a vital development for the Wellington region’s economy. If you'd like to discuss your thoughts with me, drop me a line at

Submissions are open now and close on 14 August at 5pm.

Review the proposal and have your say now.

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