Perspective: Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre

14 June 2015

By Tim Hunter, CEO, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

Let's separate the myths from the facts about the new Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre. Here are 8 compelling reasons why this project in central Christchurch is great for our city.

1. It will create new jobs

The new Convention Centre will be used between 280 and 320 days of the year and will employ 180 staff across all of its functions. The average event requires 700 hotel beds per night creating at least 150 new hotel jobs. Each conference event would fill the equivalent of 8 to 10 city restaurants over more than 280 nights. This would support an estimated 50 fulltime and 135 part-time jobs in the hospitality sector. The direct employment benefits of the Convention Centre are equivalent to at least 425 new jobs in Christchurch. The good news is that many of these jobs will be available to students and younger employees on a part-time basis.

2. There will be significant economic benefits

Forward demand for this venue is outstanding. Major international conferences book 3 to 5 years ahead, and we are already winning business for the new Convention and Exhibition Centre. More than 15 large conferences are ready to book the new space in 2019 and 2020. They include 2 large medical congresses for 2019, which will bring 2,000 international delegates with an estimated economic contribution to the city of $4 million.

Within a year of start up the new Convention Centre will host 80 to 100 multi day events each year, which include conferences, trade shows and consumer shows. The annual conference delegate spend in Christchurch is estimated at $70 to $90 million per year. Further income will be generated from cocktail functions, smaller meetings and banqueting events.

The annual conference delegate spend in Christchurch is estimated at $70 to $90 million per year.

Tim Hunter, CEO, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

International convention delegates spend twice as much as other international visitors to New Zealand. Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) 2014 figures show international delegates spend an estimated $304 per night. On average each international delegate spends a total of $1,990 on their visit to New Zealand.

3. It's being funded by the Government

As the Government is stumping up for the entire capital cost of around $300 million, it's essentially a gift to Christchurch from all the taxpayers of New Zealand. It's not being funded by ratepayers. This gift will generate millions of dollars of new economic activity in our city centre on an ongoing basis. We should be grateful for this substantial economic enabler and job creator for our city.

4. It will stimulate our knowledge economy

A substantial portion of Canterbury-hosted conferences are initiated by thought leaders in our universities, hospitals, research institutes and specialist business sectors such as engineering, agriculture and food production.

Many of our academics and business leaders want to bring specialist global audiences to Christchurch. A productive way of achieving this is by hosting international conferences in our city. This builds their organisation’s reputation, speeds up creation of global networks and sparks new business opportunities.

The new Convention Centre will augment our conference capability in Christchurch by 50% and will make bigger international conferences possible again.

5. It offsets seasonality in tourism demand 

Conferencing activity peaks in winter and provides a natural offset to the seasonality of our summer international leisure travellers. This greatly improves the economic viability for tourism operators, accommodation providers and restaurant owners who struggle to make ends meet in the winter months. Many conference delegates bring partners and family, and stay on after the conference to tour the region, spending more while they make the most of their New Zealand visit.

6. It will act as an investment catalyst

A good number of investors have new hotel projects planned for Christchurch that will only be activated once construction of the Convention and Exhibition Centre commences. These new hotels will not only service the conference market, but provide much needed summer accommodation for our inbound tourism markets that are back in high levels of growth. With Christchurch having recovered only 40% of the international visitor market it lost after the 2011 earthquakes, new hotel stock is vital to our visitor recovery.

With Christchurch having recovered only 40% of the international visitor market it lost after the 2011 earthquakes, new hotel stock is vital to our visitor recovery.

Tim Hunter, CEO, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

7. There will be an attractive precinct design

The experienced designers of the new Convention and Exhibition Centre have thought long and hard about the need to activate the spaces around the venue with laneways, restaurants, bars, retail and inner city accommodation. The location selected is also highly attractive to visiting delegates in terms of access from hotels and is close to other retail and tourism areas in inner Christchurch.

8. It will be more efficient than its predecessor

The Convention Centre we are about to get is more efficient than the one it replaces. Once up and running it will deliver 80 to 100 major events per year and, unlike its predecessor, will be able to operate two 700-person conferences at the same time, improving the productivity of the venue by 40%. The community and economic impacts of this new conference and exhibition capability will be profound.


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