‘NZ convention centre may face stiff competition’

Published on : Thursday, November 21, 2013

conventions-incentives-new-zealandThe proposed SkyCity convention centre will, in all probability, face stiff competition around the region.

Exhibitors from the Pacific, Asia and Australia have been promoting their venues at a MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry expo in Auckland and say new capacity is already being built in other countries.

SkyCity has won approval to build a $402-million centre in Auckland in return for the
government extending its gaming licence for 35 years and allowing an extra 230 pokie machines and 40 more gaming tables.

Prime Minister John Key said it would bring hundreds of thousands of high-paying tourists to New Zealand.

Hawaii has a 15-year-old convention centre on Waikiki Beach which two years ago held the
Apec meeting and tourism representatives were at the Pacific Area Incentives and Conferences Expo last week.

Brian Lynx, vice-president of meetings, conventions and incentives at Hawaii Tourism, said the convention centre was under-used at the moment, largely because recovering United States mainland companies were wary of travelling too far.

“From the US side of things there’s a perception issue. ‘Coming to Hawaii – is that a serious
meeting?’ So we’re always battling that,” he said.

“Right now there’s more supply than demand, that’s why we’re pivoting to Oceania and Asia.”

Convention and meeting guests take up about 500,000 bed nights in the islands a year with many opting to stay on after meetings that are typically three to five days long. Most hotels offer convention rates before and after the meetings, he said.

Excluding air fares, conference guests spent about US$320 a day.

Holding a conference in Auckland was cheaper for a firm than flying people to an Australian city from around that country but that did not necessarily make a difference.

NZ was up against more exotic and easier-to-reach destinations in Hawaii and Vietnam but
would remain attractive to Australians because of cost and plenty of air capacity across the

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