Cairns Convention Centre expansion “great news” for region, says CEO

AEG Ogden chairman and CEO Harvey Lister has welcomed the Queensland government’s announcement of a $176 million upgrade of the Cairns Convention Centre.

Lister said the government’s investment will deliver significant economic benefits to the Cairns economy over the next decade and beyond.

“Not only will it enable the Centre to host additional events, it will enhance Cairns’ standing as a world leader in business events and tourist destination,” he said.

The centre, which has been operated by AEG Ogden since it opened in 1996 and twice named winner of the World’s Best Congress Centre (2004 and 2014), will undergo a refurbishment.

On top of this, an expansion to facilities will provide an additional 3,000 square metres of meeting, banquet and exhibition space, overlooking Trinity Inlet.

Work is due to commence in June 2020, with the refurbishment to be completed by November 2020 and expansion by 2021-22.

Lister said the new meeting spaces are expected to add an additional $30 to $50 million economic impact to the region.

“One of the main selling points going forward will be the ability of the Cairns Convention Centre to host multiple events at the same time,” he said.

“Conference growth in Tropical North Queensland has been constrained as a result of the Centre not being able to accommodate two large conventions simultaneously during the convention season.

“This expansion by [the] government will largely resolve those constraints, opening up additional economic benefits and tourism opportunities for Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.”

Lister added that, under general manager Janet Hamilton’s leadership, the centre was currently developing a sales and marketing strategy focusing on national and international clients in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific.

“It’s important we continue building upon the momentum being generated at the centre,” he said.

“In 2018, venue bookings generated almost 134,000 room nights and contributed about $80 million in direct spending to the regional economy.

“This upgrade and expansion will allow us to continue playing a significant role in bringing high yielding business event delegates to the region.”