Cape Town - The Cape Town International Convention Centre is a nice earner, both for the province and the country.
Over the nine years of its existence, it has contributed nearly R20 billion to gross domestic product – and it is projected the new expanded centre will add almost another R2bn over the next five years.
The expanded centre’s contribution to the Western Cape gross geographic product by 2020 will be in excess of R500 million.
On Monday, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Economic Opportunity MEC Alan Winde and City of Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neilson attended the sod-turning ceremony for the centre’s expansion.
They said the centre’s multi-million-rand expansion project would significantly boost the province’s growing business travel industry.
The planned expansion has, however, been controversial. Last year, allegations surfaced of irregularities in the way the Northern Foreshore Development and planned expansion were handled.
But on Monday, Zille described the convention centre as a valued asset to the province.
“Its expansion will further increase the contribution to the province’s and the country’s economy, and spur job-creation. More people will become involved – directly and indirectly – in the staging of events at the centre and this brings with it valuable economic growth,” she said.
Winde described the expansion as a major economic catalyst and said it would significantly increase the building’s capacity for conferences and exhibitions.
In the previous financial year, it is estimated that the centre created 7 500 jobs. “This is an excellent example of infrastructure-led growth paving the way for increased employment for our residents,” Winde said.
During the past financial year, Wesgro, the Western Cape’s trade, investment and tourism destination promotion agency, secured 19 conference bids worth R347m, drawing 27 580 delegates to the province.
“This year, we aim to attract 34 000 conference delegates and bids valued at R360m. Business tourism is very lucrative, as business travellers spend more than leisure tourists, which, in turn, creates more jobs. The growth of business travel complements our efforts to counter seasonality. As we broaden our offering, the Western Cape is becoming an all-year-round destination.”
CTICC chairman Gary Fisher estimated the expansion would double the centre’s existing exhibition capacity by adding 10 000m2 of space.
“Estimates put the contribution of the CTICC expansion to the national GDP at R1.98bn by 2020. The provincial GGP (gross geographic product) also stands to benefit from the expansion, and it is expected that the centre’s contribution to the Western Cape GGP by 2020 will be in excess of R500m.”
Neilson said the ceremony marked a significant milestone in a long process to build on the centre’s success. “The City of Cape Town is proud to be the major partner in the ownership of the CTICC. We have committed ourselves by providing the land and the majority of the finance required.”
The R832m budget for the centre expansion is jointly funded by the venue’s majority shareholders, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government.
The main construction contractor is expected to start on-site work in February, with work scheduled for completion towards the end of 2016. CTICC East is scheduled to open its doors in early 2017. This expansion is part of a broader precinct development, which is set to include a 40 000m² commercial and hotel development alongside a new hospital.