The Cairns Convention Centre has reopened with a jam-packed events calendar even as progress continues on the ongoing expansion.
According to the State Government, the $176 million expansion and refurbishment is intended to “maximise the centre’s capabilities, modernise the facilities and bring new business to the tropical north”.
The 10,000m2 expansion will include a large undercover forecourt, an expanded main entry lobby, three 110-seat meeting rooms, a 410-seat plenary lecture space, exhibition space for up to 30 display booths, a 500-seat banquet/multi-functional space and external decks with views over Trinity Inlet.
Minister for Public Works and Procurement Mick de Brenni journeyed north to unveil the upgrade to TTNQ’s Mark Olsen and Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Patricia O’Neill before doors reopened in May, and said they were both “blown away” by what the State Government has delivered.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to in Cairns is over the moon that doors have reopened at the Convention Centre,” said Mr de Brenni.
“We know tourism communities across the Far North were hardest hit by the pandemic. We also know a full Convention Centre means more hotel bookings, more visitors to local tourist attractions and more money flowing into the local economy. “Cairns is definitely back in a big way!”
According to the Minister, almost 600 local tradesmen have been working on the refurbishment thanks to the government’s Buy Queensland procurement approach, which ensures government projects prioritise local jobs and businesses across the state.
“Our Buy Queensland procurement approach has seen 63 local trade packages awarded and a further 53 local businesses engaged in the supply chain,” he said.
“The other big winners are the 49 apprentices who have started their careers at the Convention Centre, like first-year apprentice tiler Blake who told me he can’t wait to bring his own kids to the Convention Centre one day to show off his handy work. “It’s a level of pride you only see from a local workforce like this one.”
Assistant Minister for Tourism and Member for Cairns Michael Healy also attended the unveiling with Mr de Brenni in May and said locals can expect to see a “significant difference” once the expansion is complete in 2022.
“All comments to date have been supportive, and as it’s only just been reopened I’m confident that as more locals see it they’ll appreciate it even more.
“The Cairns Convention Centre is an essential component to our regional economy, and I am hugely supportive of this upgrade and expansion. “I appreciate the vitally important role the CCC plays in our community.”
Mr Healy said the already significant economic injection the centre provides to the city is expected to increase dramatically once the expansion is complete.
“Up until the upgrade and expansion, the Convention Centre was pumping an estimated $80 million into our region’s economy,” said Mr Healy. “At the completion, it is estimated that figure will grow to $130 million annually.”
While the expansion won’t be completed until 2022, the Cairns Convention Centre’s events calendar is full to the brim with live music, conferences and gala balls.
Convention Centre General Manager Janet Hamilton said the staff were very excited to be back in the Centre. “The team works very hard to deliver amazing events and we are thrilled to be able to do this again after the refurbishment,” Ms Hamilton said.
“We hosted more than 400 delegates for the Australian Banana Growers Congress in May and we have more national conferences to come, as well as welcoming locals back into the Centre with the Ten Tenors and Professional Bull Riding in July.”
For more information on the expansion or to view the full events calendar go to www.cairnsconvention.com.au