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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    TNQ reaps benefits from convention centre expansion

    It’s at the centre of our city, it’s an economic powerhouse, an iconic building, brings visitors from around the world to Tropical North Queensland and is the home of the CQUniversity Taipans.

    And the award winning Cairns Convention Centre (CCC) is set to cement its reputation as a world beater with a $176 million expansion set to start next year.

    The works will take about two years to complete and will include the refurbishment of the existing centre plus the addition of 3000 sq m of new exhibition space and meeting rooms.

    Centre boss Ross Steele is determined the impacts from the massive construction project on the current operations are kept to a minimum. 

    “Our plan is to minimise disruptions to operations as much as possible during construction,” he said.

    CCC brings in about $80 million a year for TNQ through national and international conferences and this is predicted to increase by $30 million after the expansion is completed.

    But it is the events and functions enjoyed by TNQ locals that make the convention centre an invaluable part of the city.

    “Taipans home games, school formals and concerts connect the convention centre with the TNQ community,” he said.

    “The community needs to feel a sense of ownership and people get that through these events.

    “That community engagement helps drive the economic value of the centre.”

    CCC was awarded the World's Best Congress Centre in both 2004 and 2014 and the benefits it brings are not just limited to what happens inside the walls of the Wharf Street centre.

    Many of the international and domestic attendees to conventions in Cairns also choose to spend extra days in TNQ to explore what the region has to offer.

    “A national conference will bring in about $5000 per delegate and it is about $5300 for an international conference,” he said.

    “In terms of international delegates, 92 per cent would not have come to Cairns if not for the conference, 35 per cent bring family and partners and 74 per cent say they will come back for a holiday after the convention.

    “They come for the convention but will spend extra time in the region and will come back again. That gives us two bites at the economic cherry.”


    CCC currently attracts between 450 to 700 people to each convention with the expansion expected to bring an extra 25 large conventions and about 20,000 extra visitors a year to TNQ.

    Another economic spin-off is social functions associated with conventions which can be held at off-site venues to showcase TNQ's food and wine offerings, as well as the tropical surrounds of the city.

    “We are always looking for good off-site venues in town and there are some wonderful venues available including the Tanks and on the Esplanade,” he said.

    “We are well equipped with what we have in town and there are plenty of options available to showcase the region.”