Cocks on promotional trip to Korea

Queenstown Lakes Deputy Mayor Lyal Cocks looks for Ulsan, Korea, on a map, before he flies out to the industrial city today for a two-day summit on sustainable mountain tourism. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Queenstown Lakes Deputy Mayor Lyal Cocks looks for Ulsan, Korea, on a map, before he flies out to the industrial city today for a two-day summit on sustainable mountain tourism. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
A Wanaka politician departs New Zealand this morning for a whirlwind two-day visit to Korea to promote the Queenstown Lakes district.

Deputy Mayor Lyal Cocks was given just a week's notice of a 22,100km round-trip to represent the district at a summit on sustainable mountain tourism in Korean city Ulsan, after Mayor Vanessa van Uden became unavailable to travel.

A delegation, including the deputy mayor of Ulsan, visited Queenstown in August, and established with the district council here a "very generic, non-committal MOU [memorandum of understanding] to keep up the exchange of information and promote each other", Mr Cocks said.

The Koreans had also invited the QLDC to send a representative for a reciprocal visit to this month's summit.

Mr Cocks' trip would be paid for by the city of Ulsan. It would not have been contemplated or possible had local ratepayer money been involved, he said.

"Ulsan has made a very generous offer, which will enable our council to rub shoulders with some leading mountain resorts from China, Japan and Switzerland. I will be there to contribute but will also take the opportunity to absorb learnings from the likes of Hebei, Toyama and Engelberg, not to mention Ulsan itself."

Mr Cocks will spend tomorrow and Saturday in Ulsan, before returning to New Zealand on Sunday.

He will participate in a congress with other dignitaries, meet the Ulsan mayor and attend a festival and exhibition.

He will give a 10-minute talk on the Queenstown Lakes district, featuring input from Destination Queenstown and Lake Wanaka Tourism.

Mr Cocks said Ulsan was a port city boasting one of the biggest shipyards in the world.

"In my previous career, in the navy, we bought a navy tanker from those yards and it's still operating."

He said while Ulsan had a relatively small population, by Korean standards, of about 1.5 million people, but being an industrial city it accounted for about 80% of the country's GDP.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz