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In pictures: new convention centres around the world

With the international meetings market estimated to be worth $2,330 billion by 2026, destinations around the world are vying for their slice of the revenue pie – and that often means building new convention centres. Holly Patrick reports…

Convention centres serve far more than their purpose. While they function as venues for events, conferences and exhibitions they also benefit the economy and society in wider terms.

“As a result, the total per day (economic) impact of an event attendee is generally two to three times that of a leisure visitor,” explains Rod Cameron, executive director AIPC.

There are also the less measurable long-term benefits associated with what events bring to a destination: knowledge and innovation transfer, new investment potential and reputational enhancement.

But building new convention centres doesn’t come without its challenges.

“Today the biggest challenge in designing and developing a centre is that events are evolving so rapidly that the kinds of spaces needed to support various types of activities are constantly changing,” says Cameron.

“The key for a destination is to clearly understand their market potential and aspirations so the mix of spaces can be designed accordingly, and the top priority is to ‘design in’ the maximum amount of flexibility for different uses.”

And that’s exactly what these new convention centres aim to do.

Nara Prefectural Convention Center, Japan

Nara Prefectural Convention Center.

Partially built using locally-produced Nara timbers with the addition of solar panels and a rooftop garden that will feature native flora and fauna, the Nara Prefectural Convention Center echoes its surroundings.

Set to open this spring, the 2,000-capacity, 19.7 billion yen (£144m) convention centre aims to attract large events from across the world from sectors including medical, academic and engineering already scheduled.

The interior features warm lightings and chairs created by local artists, providing a space that is ideal for hosting large-scale conferences while appreciating Nara’s nature.

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, New Zealand

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.

Looking out over the Ōtākaro Avon River promenade, the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre has been designed to incorporate natural materials which reflect its location.

Due to open this year, the convention centre will offer planners a gateway to New Zealand’s South Island.

Featuring a 1,400 capacity tiered auditorium which can be divided in two, 2,800 sqm of exhibition space, 24 meetings rooms and 1,000 capacity banquet space, it comfortably fits into the ‘large convention centre’ category.

Dubai Exhibition Centre, Dubai

Dubai Exhibition Centre.

The Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) will open in October 2020, initially to host the World Expo 2020 happening in the UAE state across six months.

The centre, located on the wider Expo 2020 site, strives to create a meetings and events legacy and has already secured major events for 2021, including the inaugural GCC Social Innovation Summit.

The DEC comprises of 45,000 sqm across two campuses with a theatre, auditorium, several multi-purpose and customisable halls, four suites and 24 meeting rooms.

The centre is close to Al Maktoum International Airport and accessible from Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport, as well as via the dedicated ‘Route 2020’ metro line and four major highways.

Sabah International Convention Centre, Malaysia

Sabah International Convention Centre.

Crowning the top of Malaysia’s Borneo Island, the state of Sabah is probably most well-known for its rainforests, wildlife and beaches, but the new Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) hopes to add to the destinations’ list of accolades.

The Sabah International Convention Centre opened its doors in February this year. It spans 15 acres along the waterfront and offers a two-tier performing arts hall with a capacity for 1,250 delegates and a 5,300 sqm exhibition hall, divisible into three separate halls.

The upper level has a column-free 5,300 sqm convention hall, surrounded by 18 multi-size meeting rooms. Flowing around SICC is a 7,000 sqm open plaza with F&B outlets for delegates and 1,000 parking bays.

Centrepiece at Melbourne Park, Australia

Centrepiece at Melbourne Park.

Surrounded by gum trees and championship tennis courts, the convention centre finds itself appealing to planners in more ways than one.

A focus on natural light flooding the venue is a unique selling point for Centrepiece along with the skyline views which are sure to steal the show even if your keynote speaker doesn’t.

The 2,400 sqm main ballroom boasts 8.5 meter high ceilings with operable walls to allow the space to be divided and has been made accessible to cars and SUVs.

Centrepiece also offers a 250-capacity auditorium and a series of meeting rooms for four to 100 people.

Bruges Trade Fair and Convention Centre, Belgium

Bruges Trade Fair and Convention Centre.

A historic market city and a modern convention centre are an unlikely pairing, but the Bruges Trade Fair and Convention Centre is well on its way to being completed.

Expected to open at the end of 2021, the £33m (€40m) convention centre promises to be ‘modest-looking’ with ‘top-notch’ facilities. Natural light will flood the 4,500 sqm trade fair section through a specially constructed roof, while glass sliding doors on three sides of the building will allow planners to utilize both inside and outside space.

It’s also pledging the ‘three-chairs’ principle so every visitor will have a chair in the plenary hall, the catering area and the break-out rooms.

Amador Convention Center, Panama

Amador Convention Center

Despite a multitude of delays, Panama is getting ready to welcome its largest meetings facility, Amador Convention Center.

Located along the Panama Canal in Panama City, the new convention centre will replace Atlapa Convention Center as the largest MICE facility in Panama with an area of 61,000 sqm and total capacity for 24,000 delegates.

The centre is currently in its final construction phase finishing the exhibit halls at the southern end and is due to open later this year.

Salvador Convention Center, Brazil

Salvador Convention Center.

Despite its second-tier meetings destination reputation, Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s north-eastern state of Bahia, has ambitious plans to attract event planners with the new Salvador Convention Center, operated by GL Events.

The centre will offer 15,000 sqm of function space and a further 12,000 sqm of outdoor space with a capacity for 20,000 delegates. More than 40 meetings room, ranging from 50 to 800 capacity and eight multi-purpose halls will also be available to planners.