Calls are mounting for the State Government to upgrade the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Business and political leaders say the city is missing out on millions of dollars of lost business due to a lack of large meetings space on the Gold Coast.
The centre is owned by the State Government and managed by The Star Entertainment Group, and it has been 11 years since the centre was last upgraded.
More than 150 events were hosted at the centre attracting more than 526,000 delegates and visitors in the 2018 financial year.
Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said “if you build it they will come”.
“What a success story this venue has been,” he said. “But now It is time for the next chapter to be unveiled – I believe the expansion of the Gold Coast Convention Centre must be budgeted and planned for in the next financial year.
The proposed $85 million upgrade would see the centre’s size increase by 30 per cent, allowing for a 1500sqm convention hall and flexible areas to host smaller meetings.
Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan also backed the expansion.
“We need this because in its current form we are actually losing out on some big opportunities which are bypassing us for Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the centre has been a big success for the Coast.
“We know having a world-class centre can bring major conventions and events to the city but that also fills hotel rooms as we saw with the recent Sports Accord when the IOC were impressed with the facilities,” she said.
“The challenge going forward is to ensure we have more convention space and we want those who contribute to the global tourism hub to put convention space in the development.”
Destination Gold Coast chief executive Annaliese Battista called the upgrade “a no-brainer.”
“Right now the Gold Coast has 44 per cent of all conferences and meetings in Queensland. We punch way above our weight,” she said.
“The amount of business we are turning away because of the limited capacity of our convention centre is in the tens of millions of dollars.”