The following is attributable to Nick Hill, ATEED Chief Executive:
The serious fire which engulfed the New Zealand International Convention Centre site yesterday is expected to have implications for parts of Auckland’s city centre, but it is best to not speculate on any wider impact until the full extent of the fire is known.
Parts of the city centre—particularly the streets and buildings immediately east of SkyCity—are still affected by smoke and fumes. Fire and Emergency New Zealand expects to continue working on the site throughout Wednesday night and into Thursday.
While visitors from around the world and the rest of New Zealand may have concerns after seeing reports of the fire, they should be reassured that emergency cordons are in place to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike. Nearby buildings have been temporarily closed for safety reasons around fumes, not due to a risk of the fire spreading.
People are advised to take the basic precaution of staying away from the immediate vicinity of the fire site. Visitors and residents who feel unwell should contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.
Most of the rest of the central city is open for business and most of the city’s popular visitor attractions and transport services (trains, ferries and buses) are operating as normal – albeit traffic diversions in the city centre will potentially slow journeys.
It’s been heartening to see the accommodation sector band together to look after visitors displaced by the fire. Visitors who are due to come to Auckland in the next day or so should contact their travel provider to get an understanding as to whether their accommodation may be affected.
While there have been questions about the impact of the fire on Auckland’s ability to host large-scale business events at a single venue from 2021 and beyond – and APEC Leaders Week events in November 2021 in particular – the reality is we must wait until the fire is fully extinguished and experts have been able to assess the damage.
The NZICC is the preferred venue for APEC 2021 meetings in Auckland and it is too early to make any decisions as to whether the preferred venue needs to change.
As with any project of APEC’s magnitude, there are contingency plans in place around New Zealand’s and Auckland’s intended venues.
ATEED’s Auckland Convention Bureau is already working with the business events industry and event partners about the potential impact on conferences which have been confirmed for Auckland with NZICC as the intended main site.
We will proactively work with event organisers to explore alternative options in the hope that we can still accommodate these events at other venues within Auckland, or look to hold these at another time when the centre is open.
Auckland’s events industry has multiple world-class venues and the industry is well versed at dealing with venue amendments for a variety of reasons. We don’t anticipate that this will have material impact for other events scheduled to be held in Auckland outside of the NZICC, including the 36th America’s Cup.
Finally, ATEED would like to acknowledge the courage and professionalism of the emergency services which have battled the blaze and maintained the cordon around the site under dangerous, difficult and stressful conditions.
We also pass on our thoughts to Graeme Stephens and the SkyCity team at this upsetting time. SkyCity has long been a valued partner of ATEED and we stand ready to offer any support Graeme’s team needs from us.