03/08/2004 - 22:00

Centre to draw big spend

03/08/2004 - 22:00


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Centre to draw big spend

With the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre due to open later this month, Marsha Jacobs has a sneak preview and talks with PCEC CEO Paul D’Arcy about his thoughts on the centre.

Walking through the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, the air of expectation is palpable as the last of its construction is completed, sound equipment installed, new carpets vacuumed and the twisted steel and concrete of the old William Street freeway onramp is slowly cleared away.

With the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre opening three weeks away, CEO Paul D’Arcy is remarkably relaxed and casual.

Then again, he has spent the past 17 months working with the stakeholders, builders and architects to ensure the $220 million PCEC is delivered on time.

With those stakeholders including the Western Australian Government and the Wyllie Group, Mr D’Arcy has some pretty formidable bosses to answer to.

Perhaps his self-described 12-year ‘diversion,’ working for the Sydney Convention Centre, on his way from Ireland to Perth has given him an insight as to what lies ahead.

Recently sold by Multiplex, the PCEC is WA’s largest and only purpose built convention, exhibition and meeting centre, with 360 bookings currently being processed and confirmed for the centre that can cater for 10 people to 5,000 people.

It is estimated that 500,000 people a year will visit the PCEC, and that 50,000 of those delegates will be international visitors who will collectively spend about $79 million during their stay.

Mr D’Arcy said he believed the impact the PCEC would have on Perth was not fully understood.

“Whereas the average tourist spends $150 per day, the average delegate will spend $620 per day and this is a market that has not had the opportunity to come to Perth before,” he told WA Business News.

“More than 80 per cent of conferences booked are new to WA.

“There are several factors that will attract conventions and exhibitions to the PCEC: proximity to Asia and Europe compared to the east coast, the possibility of pre and post touring and the novelty of a new destination and centre.

Mr D’Arcy told WA Business News the process of attracting conventions was similar to bidding for the Olympic Games.

“Conventions tend to run in regional cycles, with rival cities putting in tenders,” he said.

“We know which conventions are due to come to the region again, and it is a very targeted market.”

The PCEC contains six cavernous exhibition pavilions, each approximately 2,830 square meters in size, a 2,500-seat tiered auditorium, 19 meeting rooms varying in size and two grand ballrooms.

Mr D’Arcy said the centre had been designed as a “blank canvas” for exhibitors and convention organisers to create their own impact.

The Spotless Group has undertaken a lease with the Wyllie Group to run the PCEC and will use several of its other brands, such as Mustard Catering to deliver in-house services.

The PCEC will officially open on August 26 and will showcase the best of WA in an exhibition open to the public, WA On Show.


PCEC Facts 

  • An estimated 500,000 people will visit the PCEC each year. Of these: 10 per cent will be international; 20 per cent will be from interstate; 40 per cent will be from intrastate; and 30 per cent will be local.
  • 360 bookings are being processed for events to be held from this August through to 2011.
  • 80 per cent of the international conference bookings are new to Western Australia.
  • PCEC architect, The Cox Group, has built most other purpose-built centres around Australia.
  • Ten key areas have been identified and will be targeted to attract conventions to WA.  They are: mining, oil and gas, health, agriculture, marine science and technology, education, construction, sport and recreation, communications/IT.
  • The PCEC has the largest commercial kitchen in WA, covering more than 2,000 square meters, where up to 5,000 meals can be prepared per day.
  • The PCEC is twice as long as Subiaco Oval.
  • The PCEC rests on more than 900 piles driven between 25 and 30 metres into the ground.
  • There are 25,000 cubic meters of concrete poured on site – enough to fill 20 Olympic size swimming pools.
  • There are 36,000sq m of roofing over the PCEC.
  • More than 7,000t of reinforced steel and another 2,000t of structural steel were used to construct the PCEC.
  • The PCEC contains more than 230km of cabling, enough to stretch to Busselton.


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