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Wellington NZ takes giant step forward on events

December 19, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Wellington New Zealand, sometimes nicknamed “Wellywood” because of its film industry, is about to become much more competitive in the lucrative field of business events, following a decision to go ahead and build the long-anticipated Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre (WCEC).

Wellington City Council has voted unanimously to proceed with construction of the 18,000-square-metre (sqm) WCEC, which features 10,000sqm of dedicated convention space spread across its top two floors and a 1,650 sqm ground-floor exhibition gallery to accommodate touring exhibitions.

Work on the project set to start next year.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) regional development destination and attraction general manager David Perks says the council’s decision to build a world-class facility enhances Wellington’s position as a leading conference destination in Australasia.

“Wellington has always been competitive with the conference venues available in the city but the WCEC will take things to a new level. It will enable the city to not only retain its current share of conferences but also put in bids for larger international conferences that would simply have been too big for existing venues.

“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.

Another view. Convention Centre Wakefield Street

“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.”

Perks says the business events market is currently worth around NZD 240 million to the city and is among the most lucrative within Wellington’s tourism portfolio.

“Business event visitors each spend on average NZD 299 a day compared to non-business event visitors who spend NZD 190 each a day. That spending gets spread across the city on things such as accommodation, transport, eateries and bars, and in the retail sector.

Research indicates the new convention centre will host 111 new events annually, delivering nearly 149,000 new delegate days to Wellington. This represents 16% growth.

“Add in the fact that the exhibition space is expected to attract over 272,000 annual visitors, generating an additional NZD 3.8 million in direct visitor spend in Wellington, and it’s easy to see the value the WCEC will bring to Wellington,” Perks said.

Another view. Convention Centre Wakefield Street

The WCEC was designed by Wellington-based Studio Pacific Architecture. Principal architect Daryl Calder says the design draws its inspiration from many sources including Wellington’s harbour, its famed wild weather, hilly landscape and Maori mythology, particularly Te Ūpoko-o-te-Ika-a-Māui (Maui’s head of the fish).

“The building’s glass cladding emphasises the shimmering, sinewy skin which changes in transparency throughout the day as it reflects Wellington’s variable weather. What also makes it a distinctly Wellington building is the use of raw and natural earthy tones, materials and colours throughout. It’s a building designed for Wellington that celebrates its location and context.”

Edited by Peter Needham

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