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Beijing launch for China Hastings Year of Tourism

HDC China

The official launch of a “first-in-the-world” project will be held in Beijing in two weeks. The China Hastings Year of Tourism, celebrating and enhancing the special connection between the peoples of China and Hastings, New Zealand, will be launched at the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing on June 18.

This year is the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019, an initiative agreed to by China’s Premier Li Keqiang and then-New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English in 2017.

The Amazing China Hastings Year of Tourism is a part of the national programme, and is officially endorsed by the New Zealand Minister of Tourism Hon. Kelvin Davis, Tourism New Zealand, and The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Hastings project has seen each of China’s regions invited to participate in a ‘treasure chest’ exchange. On acceptance, Hastings will send each of the participating regions a chest holding special gift, says Hastings District councillor and project director Kevin Watkins. “The region in China will then send us a chest containing something that uniquely represents their region.”

The chests received from China will be prominently displayed in Hastings, but initially they will be unopened.

“There is an excellent reason for that,” said Mr Watkins. “We envisage that the chests will become part of a fantastic secondary school competition which will help our students learn much more about China and all of its beauty. Hastings students will need to use all of their researching skills, solving clues on China’s culture, geography, history and people, to match the gifts with the region they have come from. The first three students to correctly match all of the gifts with their home region will win.”

The aim of The Amazing China Hastings Year of Tourism is to build on the wonderful relationships that Hastings already has with China – through tourism, tertiary education and trade.

“We want to build understanding and friendship between our two countries, particularly within our younger generations who will undoubtedly have more and more interactions with their Chinese peers as technology continues to enable closer ties across the world,” said Mr Watkins.

“Building relationships and cultural understanding at this age and stage means they will have a good basis on which to interact.

“We believe this project, involving all of China’s regions interacting with a city like Hastings and turning it into a competition for high school students, is a first-in-the-world.”

The China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 initiative was signed by China’s Premier Li Keqiang and then-New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English in 2017, during a visit to New Zealand by Premier Li. The vision for the national initiative was to provide opportunities for China and New Zealand to strengthen economic ties through tourism.

On the official website New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism will “strengthen the already deep ties” between the two countries.

For New Zealand, “it is an opportunity to showcase to China what makes Aotearoa a world-class destination: Stunning national landscapes, unique experiences and products, and maanakitanga, our warm and friendly Kiwi welcome”, Ms Ardern said.

“Given Hastings' strong ties with China – we were the first city to form a sister-city relationship with a city [Guilin] in China - it made sense for us to make the very best of this opportunity,” said Mr Watkins.

The district has strong economic links with China, through horticulture exports and international education, and many friendly-city relationships.

Mr Watkins has run several previous secondary school student competitions based on China, all designed to impart an understanding of the culture, geography and history of China.

12 August 2019

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