Tourism boss backs convention centre
Tourism New Zealand boss Kevin Bowler has strenuously underlined to the prime minister the importance of a convention centre in Auckland.
Prime Minister John Key said yesterday the Government would be "cautious" about signing a deal with SkyCity to build a national convention centre while an official inquiry is carried out.
On Wednesday, the auditor-general announced an inquiry into how government handled the process for seeking and assessing proposals for an international convention centre.
SkyCity was selected as preferred developer last June after it offered to build the $350m convention centre on Auckland's Hobson St in exchange for changes to gambling regulations.
Key told Fairfax Media yesterday that there was no need to put talks on hold and it was "always possible" a deal with SkyCity could be signed while an inquiry continued. His comments were echoed by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce who said the investigation would have no impact.
"We're continuing on with negotiations."
Bowler confirmed that he had talked to Key about a national facility.
"We haven't talked about the [SkyCity] deal but about how important a convention centre is for Auckland," he said. "I do think Auckland is the right place to have our principal convention centre."
Bowler said in an earlier media briefing at SkyCity yesterday it was not directly involved in the negotiations. "I can't comment on whether this is the right deal or anything ... I won't be drawn into that. What I will say is how important it is that Auckland gets an appropriate-sized convention centre and we're urging our colleagues in government to make an appropriate decision as quickly as they can."
A convention centre for Auckland was vital to growth.
"Seeing a convention centre committed to, however the deal is structured, or put together, will be good for Auckland and is something we strongly support," Bowler said. Fairfax NZ
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