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Centre already draws bookings

THE successful advancement of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre has been the biggest event for the Perth Convention Bureau to date according to PCB managing director Owen Cook.

Mr Cook, a former chairman and board member of the PCB, is filling the managing director’s role until next January, filling in for Anne-Maree Ferguson who is currently on leave.

Mr Cook said the PCB would soon have a new piece of infrastructure to sell. To date, Perth has been unable to chase what is known as the 555 convention business.

These are conventions needing 5,000 square metres of exhibition space with conference seating for 500 delegates and five breakout rooms – all under the same roof.

“Events such as these are really quite significant,” Mr Cook said.

“This centre will not be taking anyone’s business. We are chasing totally new business for this centre and have a treasure chest of leads we are pursuing.”

The PCB is designed to market WA as a conference destination.

The WA Government estimates the economic impact of the centre will be between $1.5 billion and $2.2 billion over ten years.

Mr Cook said an economic benefit of $150 million a year was the equivalent of up to about 5,000 new jobs. He said it also equated to more than one month’s free petrol a year for every car in WA.

Mr Cook said the PCB already had twenty-six events pencilled in for the new centre.

“Someone is even making enquiries for 2020,” he said.

“The lead time, particularly with international events, can be three to five years. We are at a prime time to be marketing this centre.”

If the centre’s development process runs to schedule, it should be open for business in late 2002.

Mr Cook said the public should not see the government’s $100 million towards the development of the convention centre as a gift. The funds are written into the convention centre documents as a loan.

If the successful bidder to build and run the centre manages to meet key performance indicators set, that money will revert to a grant.

“The Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre taskforce is currently negotiating with the two shortlisted proponents to agree on the key performance indicators,” he said.

The KPIs relate to international conventions, national conventions, corporate meetings, product launches and exhibitions held at the centre.

The indicators will probably include the number of days the centre is booked, the number of delegates attending, the number of trade shows or the number of attendees to an exhibition.

Mr Cook said it was commercially important the bidders satisfied the performance indicators.

He said if the government had not put up the funds for the centre, it would never have gone this far.

“No private enterprise would ever take on a centre such as this without seed capital,” Mr Cook said.

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