A new community group is to investigate establishing a Queenstown convention centre – tipped as a major visitor drawcard.
Mayor Vanessa van Uden, who’ll chair the Convention Centre Group, says it will allow the issue to be tested “outside the council machine”.
“Multiple possibilities have been raised over the years.
“We need to strip everything back and take a fresh look at this issue with an entirely open mind,” Van Uden says.
The group also includes local investor/philanthropist Sir Eion Edgar, Chamber of Commerce board member Miles Wilson, local Hotel Council chair Penny Clark, Destination Queenstown convention bureau boss Kylie Brittain and arts supporter Steve Wilde.
Edgar told Mountain Scene three weeks ago that Queenstown urgently needs a 500-plus capacity convention facility.
“I understand we probably turn down at least a quality conference every month of 500-plus people.
“Everyone wins from it – it spreads out activity through the year, you bring in the top end of the market.”
Prime Minister/Tourism Minister John Key also told Mountain Scene in June that the Government “might put in a contribution”.
“People want to come to Queenstown and any excuse we can offer them will encourage them to be here in a flash,” he said at the time.
Van Uden says that local developer and Christchurch International Airport chief executive Jim Boult – former chair of a performing arts/conference centre working party – will act in an advisory capacity to the group.
“I don’t think there is any question that the interest around this issue is gaining momentum,” Van Uden says.
“I would like to think that we will make good progress and be in a position to have some direction on the issue before the end of the year.”
Local developer John Martin commissioned plans two years ago for a $25 million-$30m convention/arts centre above his Man Street carpark.