Wellington set to build new Conference and Exhibition Centre

New Zealand's capital city has been given the green light for a new Conference and Exhibition Centre (CEC).

Wellington City Council has approved a new Conference and Exhibition Centre, with the construction of the 18,000sqm venue to start in 2019.

The building will incorporate 10,000sqm of dedicated convention space spread across its top two floors and a 1,650 sqm ground-floor exhibition gallery for touring exhibitions.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) regional development destination and attraction general manager David Perks said: "Wellington has always been competitive with the conference venues available in the city but the WCEC will take things to a new level.

"It will enable the city to not only retain its current share of conferences but also put in bids for larger international conferences that would simply have been too big for existing venues.

"It will put us on an equal footing with Auckland and Christchurch who both have conference venues under construction and the Australian market where all major cities have purpose-built convention facilities.

"It will also allow Wellington’s core performance venues such as the Opera House and Michael Fowler Centre to focus entirely on performance events. This will help increase the number and variety of live concerts and shows being staged in Wellington."

Mr Perks says the business events market is currently worth around $240 million in New Zealand dollars to the city and is one of the most lucrative within Wellington’s tourism portfolio.

Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL) CEC business case reveals the new convention centre would host 111 new events each year, bringing nearly 149,000 new delegate days to Wellington. That would be 16% growth. 

The BERL report also showed the convention and exhibition spaces would contribute a $90.6 million in New Zealand dollars of annual spend, adding $44.8m to Wellington’s GDP while creating 554 new jobs.

It also showed the three-year construction phase would generate an additional $171m spend, contribute $76m GDP to Wellington’s economy, and create 864 jobs.

Tourism New Zealand’s Global Business Events Manager, Anna Fennessy says the development of a large-scale conference venue is a huge win for Wellington. 

She said: "International business events deliver a range of benefits beyond the significant economic contributions they provide to the local economy.

"They have the potential to generate long-lasting positive social change in our communities through the expert knowledge delegates bring with them and they allow Kiwis to share their expertise and knowledge too."

The CEC was designed by Wellington-based Studio Pacific Architecture. Principal architect Daryl Calder said the design draws its inspiration from many sources including Wellington’s harbour, its famed wild weather, hilly landscape and Maori mythology, particularly Te Upoko-o-te-Ika-a-Maui (Maui’s head of the fish).

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