A GIANT new convention centre may be built at the airport within six years under a proposal to boost Hong Kong's share of the lucrative conference and expo market. The complex - which would cost billions of dollars to build - should be about as big as the existing centre in Wan Chai, a consultant's report prepared for the Government says. The proposal is being considered by the Airport Authority, which says there are three parcels of land at Chek Lap Kok that could be used for building. While the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai was given a $4.8 billion extension ahead of the handover, consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers say growing demand will soon lead to a shortfall in space. Space at the Wan Chai centre is booked as far in advance as 2008, and there are at least 58 events confirmed for next year. 'If Hong Kong is going to continue to be recognised as the exhibition and trade-fair hub for the Asia-Pacific region, then it will certainly grow out of its present size,' said Michael Duck, chairman of the Hong Kong Convention Organisers' and Suppliers' Association. He estimated the industry was worth more than $6 billion a year to the local economy in direct earnings and spin-offs. Delegates spent 2.5 times as much as regular holidaymakers, providing valuable turnover for hotels, restaurants and shops, he said. But the feasibility study prepared for the Economic Services Bureau says Hong Kong ranks sixth in the region in terms of the number of conventions held in recent years, and that the Government should work harder to promote the SAR as a business destination. It recommends building a multi-purpose centre with between 50,000 and 87,000 square metres of rentable space by 2005 or 2006, with the option of extending later. Since its expansion in 1997, the Wan Chai centre has 63,000 square metres of rentable space. The consultant's report says a new centre should be close to hotels, banks, restaurants, bars and medical centres, and recommends it be built at Chek Lap Kok, a government summary of the paper says. It says such a centre could generate up to $32.8 billion, but that it would only be financially viable if the site is obtained at no cost. 'We're still discussing it and trying to see whether it's feasible,' an Airport Authority spokesman said. Three parcels of land - near the Chek Lap Kok pier, near where Dragonair's new headquarters is being built, or near Hactl - were possible construction sites. Mr Duck said new convention and expo centres were being built around the region but that the SAR was well positioned to compete. The feasibility study has been endorsed by the government steering committee that commissioned it, but an Economic Services Bureau spokeswoman said this was no guarantee that all its recommendations would be adopted. 'The Government is right now studying the consultant's report. 'Probably a week from now there will be something announced . . . and the Government's stance will be known,' she said.