Shanghai visit 'unique' chance

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Clive Geddes will have a "unique and unprecedented" opportunity to establish relationships between China and the local community when he visits the Shanghai Expo later this month.

Mr Geddes, who is part of an Otago delegation on an eight-day visit to the expo, said the core of the visit would be three days of meetings and functions at the New Zealand Pavilion, where the delegation will meet the Mayor of Shanghai, the presidents of six Chinese universities, and construction group and airline executives.

"Access to the type of people we are scheduled to meet in one place, over a short space of time, can only be facilitated through introductions associated with an event of the scale and nature of the Shanghai Expo.

"This opportunity is both unique and unprecedented."

He said the aim of the trip was to establish links with Chinese business sectors and leave "them with an entirely positive view of what we as a community have to offer both to visitors and investment".

"It is hard to say exactly how much specific businesses in Queenstown would benefit from my visit there, but this a valuable way to create relationships with the Chinese business world, as the office of mayor is very highly regarded and respected in China," he said.

Mr Geddes said he would also attend a further series of meetings in Shanghai with specific focus on the Lakes District, primarily with businesses from the investment and visitor sectors.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chairman Alastair Porter said the visit would aid economic development in the district.

"The idea of the delegation sounds positive. We will have to rely on the judgement of the mayor and the council about the benefits to the business community."

"It is important the mayor is well briefed by the local education and business parties.

He will no doubt be differentiating Queenstown's position as a growing education provider," Mr Porter said.

The the trip will cost ratepayers between $6000 and $8000. This will cover the air fare, accommodation and overheads.

Mr Geddes told the Queenstown Times he had only been on one other ratepayer-funded overseas trip during his time as mayor - to Queenstown's sister city, Aspen, Colorado, last year.

"I have only ever had positive feedback about going on the Aspen trip."

"I would not be going on this trip to China if I did not think it was worthwhile," he said.

Mr Geddes said QLDC councillors had supported the idea of the delegation when he discussed it with them.

The delegation will also be joined by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin, Clutha District Mayor Juno Hayes and representatives from the Otago business and education sectors.

Mr Geddes will be the only representative from the Queenstown Lakes district.


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