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Speech: Xiyangyang Expo Opening Night Gala


Tonight marks a special occasion – it is the first China-New Zealand industry event in the lead-up to the China New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019.

Before I go on, there are some key people I want to acknowledge who have all contributed to tonight’s event.
Can I please thank:
•    Lisa Li, Managing Director, China Travel Service New Zealand;
•    Director Luo of the China National Tourism Organisation Office, Australia and New Zealand;
•    Madam Xu, China Consul General;
•    Dave Cull, Mayor of Dunedin and President, LGNZ;
•    Daniel Walker, Deputy Chair, New Zealand Māori Tourism;
•    Our Sponsors:  ATEED, Auckland Airport, China Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand, New Zealand Māori Tourism;
•    Stephen England-Hall, CE of Tourism New Zealand;
•    Our wonderful MC’s, Rachel Hunter and Brett O’Reily;

•     And all the Mayors from across New Zealand who have travelled for this event.

This weekend marks the 4th Xiyangyang Expo – the largest tourism event for the New Zealand Chinese community – and the opening of the City of 100 Lovers show which showcases the unique New Zealand tourism experience that for many begins right here in Auckland.

It is fitting that the first event associated with the Year of Tourism has been organised with New Zealand’s Chinese community here in Auckland.

You are the face of the new New Zealand and a group that is deeply influential in strengthening links between our two countries.

The recent New Zealand Chinese Language Week is a great example of this, with tangible enthusiasm for Chinese language in New Zealand.

The New Zealand China Council recently found that Kiwi parents now consider Mandarin the most desirable language for their children to learn.

New Zealand and China’s shared tourism relationship is a special and enduring one.

Not only does 2019 allow us to celebrate this relationship through our Year of Tourism, but it marks the 20th anniversary of New Zealand welcoming our first Chinese visitors to experience safe and enjoyable holidays in Aotearoa.

Long may this relationship continue.

Looking forward, this relationship will continue to strengthen.

Over the next six years, Chinese visitors are expected to nearly double in number, from 450,000 to over 800,000 per year.

And this growth puts China on track to become our largest visitor market by expenditure – surpassing Australia.

And travel in the other direction is also growing rapidly, with China now New Zealand’s fifth most popular destination.

The Chinese market is incredibly valuable for New Zealand.

It has the highest daily spend of any visitor market, and the highest growth of independent travellers staying longer and visiting a wider range of regions.

And it’s encouraging to see operators looking to capitalise on this market by shaping products to suit the needs of our Chinese guests, while offering them our unique culture.

An example of this is Napier Māori Tours, recent winners at the inaugural New Zealand Māori Tourism Dragon’s Den awards for their immersive cultural experience.

Visitors are welcomed at the local marae, gather kai together, prepare a hangi and hear stories about the land and its people.

Examples like this capture the essence of our shared Year of Tourism – it is built on the strong people-to-people connections between New Zealand and China, and the journey of understanding we are all on together.

The Year of Tourism is an opportunity for New Zealand to showcase what it is that makes New Zealand a world class destination:

Our stunning natural landscapes, our range of unique products and experiences, and manaakitanga – the quintessential Kiwi hospitality that makes visitors feel like whānau as soon as they step off the plane.

It is also an opportunity to take stock of the importance of China to our tourism sector and consider how we continue to roll out the welcome mat to Chinese visitors.

There are many ways you can get involved in the Year of Tourism – and I know many of you in this room already have preparing for this, through events, team upskilling or new product offerings.

I am delighted to announce that the official Year of Tourism Opening Ceremony between our governments will take place at Te Papa on 20 February 2019, in conjunction with the Terracotta Warriors exhibition.

I look forward to welcoming my Chinese counterparts to our capital city and showing them the affinity that New Zealand has for China and her culture.

This will be bookended by Auckland and Christchurch’s annual Lantern Festivals – hosted by Auckland’s Chinese Community and in Christchurch by Mayors from across the South Island.

Later in the year we will get to see Dunedin’s ID Fashion Week in partnership with a number of world-leading design groups from Shanghai showcasing Dunedin’s thriving design scene.

I would like to extend my thanks to the Mayor of Queenstown and Destination Queenstown for leading New Zealand’s first official Year of Tourism Delegation to China next week to showcase the region’s premium products and some of our most exciting experiences.

I personally am looking forward to visiting China and experiencing for myself as part of the Year of Tourism.

And in what will surely be one of the Year’s highlights, the China National Tourism Office and China Travel Service are planning A Night of 1000 New Zealanders in Xi’an in September next year.

New Zealanders visiting China at that time will be invited to attend this once-in-a-lifetime evening where they will be welcomed to the home of the Terracotta Warriors through the ancient city gates.

The New Zealand Government is also using the Year of Tourism as a platform to raise the quality of the service Chinese visitors receive when they travel our country.

I was pleased to hear that New Zealand’s Customs Service, MPI’s Border Operations team and the New Zealand Police are using the Year of Tourism to upskill their own cultural capabilities to ensure Chinese visitors receive world-class service at every stage of their journey.

The Government has launched a Year of Tourism website which contains information about events throughout the Year and the official logo which can be downloaded free of charge.

Tourism is fundamentally about building people-to-people connections.

With our two countries set to mark twenty years of tourism flows in 2019, our shared Year of Tourism seems a fitting way to celebrate the strength of this relationship.

Let’s use the Year of Tourism to truly roll out the welcome mat to our Chinese visitors and showcase our unique people and culture, world class cities and regions, experiences and natural landscapes.

Thank you all for attending this milestone event tonight, and for the immense support and work you have done in preparation for the Year of Tourism. Please enjoy tonight’s show.

Xie Xie

12 OCTOBER 2018