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Ngai Tahu kaumatua Sir Tipene O'Regan will headline a cultural symposium in Dunedin today, focused on the significance of Maori and Chinese in the tourism industry.
Sir Tipene will be the first keynote speaker of the day-long 2013 cross-cultural tourism symposium, organised by Otago Polytechnic principal business lecturer Dr Sharleen Howison.
The event aimed to highlight global tourism trends and address the importance of cultural dimensions in the local, national and international tourism industry.
Emphasis on Maori and Chinese cultures reflected the importance of developing relations between New Zealand and China.
Many Dunedin tourism operators have started implementing special offers, itineraries, products and services to accommodate the growing Chinese market.
A huge increase in business from Chinese visitors to New Zealand has been forecast, and has dominated discussion at various national tourism conferences including the 2013 Tourism Industry Association Summit held in Wellington last week.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week free Mandarin classes will be held at the University of Otago for business professionals dealing with companies throughout Asia.
Today's symposium at the polytechnic will also include presentations from Prof Kaye Chon, of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, as well as Dunedin tourism professionals and business managers.
Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said his presentation would include information about how local tourism professionals could better attract Chinese visitors and make the most of opportunities from China.
Mr Saxton would also talk about Dunedin's sister city relationship with Shanghai.