Centre makes Chch a 'serious destination'

Last updated 10:10 30/06/2014
Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau
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DESTINATION: Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau hosts visiting Australian event organisers on the Avon River.

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Christchurch convention business organisers are optimistic the city is on the up as a destination. Their belief is backed by a commitment that details for a new convention centre will be announced next month.

Further details for the much-awaited convention centre are coming in July, Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau manager, Caroline Blanchfield says.

That is according to a Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) statement she received.

Blanchfield has taken that official reassurance to potential organisations that could bring convention business back to the quake-torn city, once it has a dedicated building to host events.

The CERA statement reads: "The convention centre precinct development is running to schedule, CERA is currently evaluating the proposal to select the preferred consortia and preferred operator. The announcement of the preferred consortia for developing and building the convention centre, and the preferred operator . . . will happen in July."

Christchurch can now be treated as a serious conference destination by visiting Australian and international event organisers wanting to bring conventions to a smaller but desirable city, she said.

Blanchfield this month attended an Auckland-based Meetings 2014 event, New Zealand's top business tourism trade exhibition.

The bureau was exhibiting with nine of its partner venues and suppliers at the country's key annual business events expo in Auckland.

These partners included Vbase, Continental, Hotel Ashburton, and Heritage Hanmer Springs.

New Canterbury exhibitors included Rydges Latimer Hotel, Moveable Feasts, Mashina Functions and Entertainment venue, Sensational Selwyn, and Hurunui Tourism.

Prior to the Meetings event, Blanchfield and bureau partners hosted eight Australian event organisers plus a key industry journalist on a familiarisation tour to Christchurch and Hanmer Springs.

Those Australian buyers were much more interested in Christchurch as a destination than a year ago, she said.

"This year we were fully subscribed . . . we had an opportunity to turn these professional conference organisers' minds around by doing the glass half full," Blanchfield said of the recent "famil" hosting process.

"One is a (potential) urban design conference, one is an international student's agent conference, one is a disaster- management recovery conference. They've come to check us out."

Recently Christchurch has won a couple of conferences, including the 20th Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors Congress, which will bring 400 delegates to Christchurch in May 2016. The bureau had also won another smaller four day Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis conference in 2015.

That conference would provide an estimated $1.2 million direct spend, Blanchfield said. Some conferences required a three-to-five- year lead time in terms of bidding for and securing the event, Blanchfield said. This meant the bureau could work towards a mid- 2017 build time for a conference centre for Christchurch.

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