20 April 2011
Auckland Airport urges that benefits of national convention centre not be ignored
Auckland Airport today joined calls from the tourism industry and business sector to urge that the significant tourism, trade and economic benefits of a national convention centre not be lost in the politics.
Chief executive of Auckland Airport, Simon Moutter, said from China where he is taking part in Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s trade mission, “The opportunity to gain a large-scale international-quality convention centre from private investment, with the significant benefits it brings to the country, and with no financial drain on the taxpayer, does not come along very often. Despite the tourism industry calling for such a centre for well over a decade now, and despite the various positive business cases for such a centre put forward by the public and private sector, until now a financially viable option had not been identified.”
“Because Auckland and New Zealand do not have a conference centre of sufficient scale to attract the big international conferences, we lose many opportunities each year to the cities like Melbourne and Brisbane that do – missing out on thousands of additional visitors and millions of dollars in economic benefit each time. This has been the case for far too long now,” said Mr Moutter. “As New Zealand becomes increasingly connected to the rapidly growing economies of Asia, the need for an international scale convention centre will only increase.”
An international conference centre is a significant gap in the current tourism and trade infrastructure and proposition in New Zealand, and the development of such a facility will offer considerable economic benefits by attracting more, higher-value, visitors. In addition, it would enable some of the aspirational visitor economy goals contained in the new Auckland Plan and in the goals of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development.
Mr Moutter said, “Convention visitors are amongst the highest spending visitors per night, spending 4-5 times as much per night as the average daily visitor spend. In addition, conventions help improve shoulder and off-peak tourism, and encourage business and trade links between New Zealand and international delegates.”
Auckland Airport’s general manager corporate affairs, Charles Spillane, said, “Auckland Airport believes that the involvement of the Prime Minister as the Minister of Tourism in addressing one of the major tourism infrastructure gaps is entirely appropriate and necessary. As a tourism destination New Zealand is competing in an exceptionally tough global market. The inability to accommodate large international conferences here is a significant concern that the Tourism Minister and the tourism industry is absolutely right to address.”
“As a relatively small economy, New Zealand does not have the ability to fund all the investment in infrastructure needed to accommodate our national growth and living standard aspirations. Increasingly, this means that essential infrastructure investments such as this will require some level of private and public sector engagement.”
“The tourism industry has been waiting a very long time for a national convention centre,” said Mr Spillane, “let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture.”
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