Business backs convention centre

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014

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Queenstown and Wanaka big-business muscle has lent support for the district council-backed $55.5 million convention centre, saying becoming a high spending tourist magnet would be good for all.

At a Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting in Wanaka yesterday, Richard Thomas, of Skyline Enterprises, said the company "adamantly endorsed" a convention centre on the downtown fringe.

Skyline has national and international arms, operating gondolas in Queenstown and Rotorua and Canada and Singapore.

While Mr Thomas was happy to endorse a convention centre from a tourism operator's perspective, he would not be drawn on an opinion on an increase in rates targeted at Queenstown CBD ratepayers.

Another major player in the downtown real estate scene, the Westwood Group, signalled support for a CBD fringe convention centre.

Westwood Group operations director Johnny Stevenson said he had canvassed tenants of the company's large prestige property portfolio and found support.

"This would be for the greater good of Queenstown, but we want to see feasibility work for the ratings funding model to continue.

"I think conferences are key, and we will see people who didn't plan to come to Queenstown, didn't pay to get here, will be coming even in the off-season and bringing their partners, and they will be spreading the word about Queenstown when they get back home."

Queenstown-based financial adviser and top-selling finance author Martin Hawes said a convention centre in the CBD fringe got a "resounding yes" from him.

 

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- The Southland Times

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