Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has joined New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in announcing the selection of the preferred developers and operators for Christchurch’s new Convention Centre Precinct.
“This is a big milestone for a project that will provide a major boost to the economic heart of the rebuilt Christchurch,” Brownlee says.
“Today we’re pleased to reveal that Plenary Conventions New Zealand, a consortium of proven 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.
“The next step for the consortium is to formally enter into a master planning and development phase, where the Crown will work with Plenary Conventions NZ on the detail of the precinct ahead of construction.
“We’re also pleased to announce today that leading international convention centre and hotel operator Accor has been selected as the preferred operator of the Convention Centre. Accor will also work with the Crown and Plenary Conventions NZ into the next phase.
“Plenary Conventions NZ has produced a concept model and images to demonstrate its vision of what the Convention Centre Precinct might become.
“While all parties need to work through the exact design and layout of the Convention Centre Precinct, these concepts demonstrate the exciting possibilities in front of us.
“I expect the release of these images will take many local people on a significant journey toward realising what a large part of their central city will look like.
“I acknowledge the process up to now has been quite lengthy, with only minimal information publicly available.
“There is a very good reason for this; we needed to ensure we followed a thorough, fair and considered approach to find the best possible development consortium and operator, and this process is ongoing.
“I’m confident the end result of this work will be a vibrant, world-class Convention Centre Precinct that attracts conference and convention visitors from all over the world, and delivers significant economic benefits for the Canterbury region.
“I see Christchurch’s Convention Centre Precinct complementing other convention facilities around the country.
“The project remains on track for construction to begin in 2015, and for the centre to be open for business in 2017.
“Beyond the Convention Centre complex, the precinct is likely to combine hotel accommodation, hospitality, retail, and commercial and residential uses.
“This is a major project on a scale that may surprise some people.
“Christchurch is New Zealand’s gateway to the South Island, and it’s only fitting it has a properly designed, constructed and operated commercial showpiece like the Convention Centre Precinct.
“I’m confident we’ve brought together an excellent team of companies to deliver it,” Brownlee says.
The New Zealand Government has committed NZD$284 million (AUD$258 million) to the project.
The announcement has been welcomed by tourism leaders across the nation.
“We’re thrilled to have today’s confirmation of the development and operation of Christchurch’s new Convention Centre, set to open in 2017,” says Tim Hunter, chief executive of Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism.
Plenary Conventions New Zealand, a consortium of proven 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.
Leading international convention centre and hotel operator Accor is the preferred operator of the Convention Centre. Accor will also work with the Crown and Plenary Conventions NZ into the master planning and development phase.
Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau manager Caroline Blanchfield says 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,” she says.
She says the new venue will tick all the boxes for conference organisers and fit what the convention industry is looking for in New Zealand.
“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,” Blanchfield says.
She says Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau works closely with Tourism New Zealand to attract new international conferences.
“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,” Blanchfield says.
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, says 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,” Spreitzer says.
Blanchfield says Christchurch offers a unique learning environment for delegates across diverse fields of interest.
“We have a wealth of expertise to share in many sectors including earth science, health science, agriculture, technology and education,” she says.
“Our location in the heart of the South Island makes Christchurch an ideal international conference destination, appealing to delegates and organisers who want to make the most of their time here to explore, either before or after their conference.”