Design unveiled for Cairns Convention Centre’s $176m expansion

A tropical-themed entrance and Sky Terrace are part of Cairns Convention Centre’s $176 million upgrade.

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 of its existing facilities and an expansion providing an additional 3000 square metres of meeting, banquet and exhibition space, overlooking Trinity Inlet.

“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,” said AEG Ogden chairman and CEO Harvey Lister.

The revised plan includes a new entry, space for 30 exhibitors’ booths, three meeting rooms over 420 square metres, a flat floor space for 450 people and a rooftop banqueting space for 410 people.

The original design, which wouldn’t have allowed for concurrent events to occur, was scrapped after intervention from Cairns MP Michael Healy.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the $176 million expansion will be bigger and better than first planned.

“We only get one chance to do this so we’re going to do it right,” she said.

Work is due to commence in June 2020 with the refurbishment to be completed by November 2020 and expansion by 2021/22. Work on the roof and structural work will require centre’s complete shutdown, which will happen between May and October next year.

Lister said it was expected the new meeting spaces would 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, such as a basketball game and a convention or two conventions,” 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 Government will largely resolve those constraints, opening up additional economic benefits and tourism opportunities for Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.”