Wellington will soon be able to take on large-scale exhibitions at its new 18,000sqm conference and exhibition centre, which will begin construction next year. This will put the city "on an equal footing with Auckland and Christchurch", who both have conference venues under construction.
To be constructed over three years, the new centre will have 10,000sqm of dedicated convention space on its top two floors and a 1,650sqm ground floor exhibition gallery for touring exhibitions.
The new "world-class" facility will enable the city to grow its share of exhibitions with bids for larger international conferences that have previously been too big for the city's existing venues.
The new exhibition space is expected to attract over 272,000 annual visitors, generating an additional A$3.8 million in direct visitor spend in Wellington, according to a business case by the Business and Economic Research Ltd.
The new convention centre is expected to host 111 new events annually, delivering nearly 149,000 new delegate days to Wellington, which represents a 16% growth from current levels.
"It will put us on an equal footing with Auckland and Christchurch, who both have conference venues under construction, and the Australian market, where all major cities have purpose-built convention facilities," said David Perks, regional development destination and attraction general manager of Wellington Regional Economic and Development Agency (WREDA).
"It will also allow Wellington's core performance venues such as the Opera House and Michael Fowler Centre to focus entirely on performance events. This will help increase the number and variety of live concerts and shows being staged in Wellington," added Perks.
Wellington's business events market is currently worth around A$240 million (US$172 million), and is among the most lucrative within the city's tourism portfolio, according to Perks. Business event visitors spend on average A$299 a day compared to non‐business event visitors who spend A$190.