There's no doubt conventions are cash cows for cities. The Government knows this and hotel chains know this, which is why the controversial $402 million SkyCity convention centre will go ahead despite a couple of hiccups.
First there was the cost over-run and SkyCity's request for taxpayers to stump up the extra money. Public outrage ensured the Government took a tough stance with SkyCity - eventually.
Prime Minister John Key initially tried to justify coughing up the extra cash by warning that Auckland risked having an eyesore in the centre of town if SkyCity didn't get its way. But within days, Key had come around to the fact there was minimal support for any more cash.
Then a New Zealand First bill to repeal the legislation allowing the sweetheart deal between the Government and the hotel was pulled from the ballot box. That the bill was drawn should have merely allowed for bluster and hyperbole in Parliament's debating chamber, but Winston Peters' victory in Northland meant Steven Joyce had to make a phone call to Act's sole MP, David Seymour, to ensure the Government had the numbers to vote down the bill.
And so the New Zealand International Convention Centre should be ready for business by 2018, allowing New Zealand a platform to place itself on the Pacific and Southeast Asian stage, as Joyce put it.
Having spent a week in Las Vegas, I can see how important tourism, and convention tourism in particular, is to the economy.
In the five days I was there, I ran into people attending a number of conventions - the National Association of Broadcasters was the largest with more than 100,000 people.
The International Security Conference drew 17,000, and numerous smaller conferences attracted anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand guests.
The conferences take place during the week, then the business people clear out of the hotels and make way for the bachelor and hen parties to take over.
Our first night was spent at a hotel of convenience before we moved into our hotel of choice. I took a seat in the lobby while waiting to check in and wondered why the upholstery was plastic. A couple of minutes later a group of women came staggering into the hotel, empty yard glasses around their necks, all of them with bobbing penis headbands and one a bride to be. They'd been at a pool party and were sopping wet. What little liquid was left in the glasses was being spilled over the chairs they'd collapsed into. The waterproof seating made perfect sense then.
No doubt the bachelor party industry is a money-spinner for Vegas and helps keep occupancy rates up when the conference-goers leave. But I wouldn't like to see Queen St turned into the equivalent of the Strip, with groups of men and women drinking their way up one end, down the other and into oblivion. Still, needs must for Vegas.
And there's good money in it. The 25-year-old barman at the Mandarin Oriental had just bought his second home - an investment rental - and even allowing for the low cost of housing in Vegas and the fact that the Oriental is a high-end hotel where the tips would be substantial, I can't imagine an Auckland hospo worker being able to do the same.
A convention centre will be an asset to the city, but it shouldn't come at any cost.
I would hate to see Auckland become just another city that exists purely to milk tourists.
We're lucky to have more to offer visitors than an air-conditioned convention centre and open-all-hours bars.
• Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB, Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight.