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The New Zealand Air Force Museum, together with its partner Vbase, has been recognised as a Tourism/Hospitality Finalist in the 2014 Champion Canterbury Business Awards.

The partnership between the popular, award-winning miliraty museum and tourism attraction and Christchurch’s venue management organisation was designed to rejuvenate the business tourism and hospitality sector.
The 1500sqm of new conference space provided at the Museum has proved itself a versatile and impressive venue for conferences, trade exhibitions and gala dinners. The Museum and Vbase crafted the new temporary venue specifically to attract high-value business tourism events back to the city.

Air Force Museum Director Therese Angelo says although the new building was designed solely for Air Force Museum use, the Christchurch earthquakes created new space demands in the city, and even before the Museum’s new space was completed , a large area of the gallery space was set aside as a temporary venue.

“The partnership was created through shared motivation to ensure we not only provided the local community with a place to come and enjoy events, but also created a wider economic benefit to the region through convention business. The loss of the convention centre took with it a $100 million a year industry, so offering the remaining space as a temporary convention centre to help rebuild some of that industry seemed like a great idea. Vbase’s expertise in attracting and hosting great events was an essential part of the success of the venue,” she says.

The venue is set to operate until the new convention centre is open, building confidence in the city’s ability to host events. The building will then revert to its intended use as an aircraft display gallery.

Vbase General Manager, Darren Burden says the temporary venue is unique in Christchurch and fills a much-needed gap between smaller venues and the expansive Horncastle Arena.

“With capacity for up to 1300 people and flexibility for use, the open design with its clean lines and affordable space has been in hot demand since it opened in February 2013,” he says.

In 2013 the venue contributed more than $3 million to the local economy, bringing several business events to the city with their associated accommodation, food, beverage, transport and retail spend. The 10 months to the end of 2013 saw the new Museum event space host 91,000 people at over 250 separate events. Initial revenue generation forecasts were exceeded by 154%.

Both partners endeavour to support charitable activities whenever possible. This means that the venues are regularly provided free of charge or at a discount rate. The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra  uses the existing Aircraft Hall as a performance venue numerous times each year.

The wider community has also benefited from a new cost-effective venue that is able to host school balls, retail sales, concerts, meetings and other local based events, which had had been difficult to accommodate post-quake.

The Champion Canterbury Business Awards will be held on 17 September.

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