The passage through Parliament of legislation confirming an International Convention Centre can be built in central Auckland is an important milestone and positive boost Auckland and New Zealand needs, says Michael Barnett, head of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
“But now we need to pick up the pace and get on with the next phase of this crucial project.
It is critical that we encourage SkyCity to progress the project with urgency and speed. “We should not lose sight of what having an international convention centre will do to lift New Zealand up the value chain - not just for hosting large global events, but as an attractor for investment, new businesses and flow on tourism impacts across the whole country.”
Clearly, there are social matters around SkyCity’s management of pokies that will need to be closely monitored.
“But the bottom line is that SkyCity’s offer to build the convention centre at no cost to tax payers or rate payers for free – in the centre of Auckland, near top accommodation, transport and restaurants – is a game changer.
As well as some 1500 jobs during the construction phase, the gains from New Zealand having an international scale convention centre will be widespread – for tourism, hotels, food and beverage sector, transport, tourism packages to visit provincial centres, and branding New Zealand internationally.
“I suggest that yesterday’s political threats by Opposition Leader David Cunliffe and Green Party speakers to pull the plug on the deal are reckless and ill-judged. Threats of this kind are a threat to business, to getting certainty on Auckland and New Zealand lifting its economic performance, to creating employment.”
International scale conferences and conventions hold enormous potential for generating shoulder and off-season demand, and sub conferences across New Zealand. Business events generate high expenditure, often include leisure travel add-ons and do not demand capacity in the peak season, noted Mr Barnett.