Larry Schlesinger | 21 November 2012

Darling Harbour needs at least another 1,000 hotel rooms for new convention centre: Tourism and Transport Forum

The consortium that wins the rights to redevelop the Sydney convention centre at Darling Harbour will need build an additional 1,000 hotel rooms, according to the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).

The tourism industry lobbying group says building the right number of hotel rooms is vital to the success of the project.

“We think the number of hotel rooms that result from the development is vital to get Sydney back as the number one convention centre – and that means a hotel of 1,000-plus rooms,” said John Lee, head of the TTF, in an article in the Australian Financial Review.

Lee recalled the redevelopment of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre at South Wharf, where only an extra 250 hotel rooms were added – not enough in his view.

Currently Barangaroo developer Lend Lease and the Plenary Group are leading the two consortiums that are in the running to be awarded the $1 billion contract.

An announcement on the winning tender is expected to be made before Christmas.

Redeveloping Sydney’s International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Centre is one of the election promises of the NSW state government.

Construction of interim facilities on Glebe Island are due to begin in mid-2013, with the existing facilities at Darling Harbour closed from November until a re-launch in 2016.

Redevelopment plans include the building of the largest exhibition space in Australia at 40,000 square metres, the biggest meeting room space in Australia at 6,000 square metres and the biggest Australian convention hall with capacity of more than 10,000 people.

The new convention centre will be developed as a public private partnership (PPP) in conjunction with Infrastructure NSW (INSW).

The convention centre contributes up to $460 million to the NSW economy every year.