New Zealand’s Christchurch Centre wants their message to ring clear, that their city is a safe and desirable place for conferences, which they'll be in full position to do when the venue opens in late 2019.
Speaking at last week's AIME on the sixth anniversary of the most deadly earthquake to hit the South Island that ruined much of the city, Christchurch Centre’s general manager Rob McIntyre said New Zealand’s oldest city is now its newest, thanks to a NZ$40 billion (US$28.7 billion) project.
“The new convention centre will be set in the heart of the CBD on a prime riverfront site and will be a world-class, premium boutique facility that will be a flexible space for up to 2,000 delegates,” said McIntyre.
Christchurch Centre has secured several events ahead of its opening, such as the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering Congress 2020, the World Cereal and Bread Congress 2020, and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Biology Symposium 2021.
The bookings are a significant vote of confidence for a city on a journey of recovery.
“Everything in Christchurch has been over-designed from an earthquake point of view structurally, so the buildings are seismically safe. We're applying the latest seismic engineering knowledge and structural engineering tools to deliver a contemporary and innovative solution to Christchurch’s earthquake challenges,” McIntyre told TTmice e-Weekly.
Still, McIntyre admits there is work to be done to regain the confidence of planners.
“Prior to the earthquake, Christchurch was New Zealand’s only convention centre and at that time we had 24 per cent of all meetings and events in the country and 42 per cent of the Australian conventions market that came to New Zealand went to Christchurch. We need to get those numbers back," he said.
McIntyre said that the centre is targeting for it to reach maturity by its fifth year with 200 event bookings annually.
“New Zealand has never competed on the international stage properly before," he said. “The government is building this centre to bring international conventions to the country that would not otherwise come because we didn't have the infrastructure.”
McIntyre believes that the key to selling the centre is its proximity to hotels and the airport. The city will have 2,500 new hotel rooms by the time the venue opens, all within walking distance. As well, Christchurch International Airport is just 15 minutes’ drive from the city.