Hon. Minister Luo Shugang,
Respected Members of Parliament Raymond Huo and Jian Yang,
Her Worship Mayor from South Waikato Jenny Shattock,
Hon. President Wan Min,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good evening! This morning, Mr. Luo Shugang, Minister of Culture and Tourism of China, and Mr. Kelvin Davis, Minister of Tourism of New Zealand, co-hosted the opening of 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism. This afternoon, Minister Luo and his delegation arrived in Auckland. Tonight, it's my great honor and pleasure to host this reception in celebration of 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism and in honor of Minister Luo and his delegation. At the outset, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to Minister Luo, Mr. Wan Min, President of China Travel Service and all other delegation members, who have come a long way to NZ for the opening of China-New Zealand Tourism Year. I would also like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Auckland, our warmest welcome and heartfelt thanks to all the distinguished guests, and friends present here today, for your great support to China-NZ relations and tourism cooperation.
This month happens to be the second anniversary since our two countries jointly announced 2019 as China-NZ Year of Tourism, when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid his successful visit to NZ in March 2017. Tourism is essential to our overall bilateral relationship and a very important content of building the 21st Maritime silk road between China and NZ. It has become an increasingly important bridge for enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, and a catalyst for pragmatic cooperation in other areas between our two peoples. Now, China is NZ's second largest tourist resource country, and I am confident that it will surely become the first in the years to come.
The increase in airline connectivity and capacity reflects and contributes to the fast growing Chinese visitors to NZ. After I assumed office as the Chinese Consul General in Auckland at the end of 2015, many new direct flights have been opened between Auckland and China's major cities, such as Beijing, HK, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Chongqing, and very soon Xi'an will also launch its direct flight with Auckland, with around 160 nonstop flights back and forth per week in peak season. The rapid development of connectivity has facilitated not only the exchanges of people but also cooperation of economy, trade, finance, infrastructure, culture, education and others, bringing lots of job opportunities to the local market. The fast growing air routes between China and NZ will enable NZ to be the transportation transit hub from China and other east Asian countries to South America and other places of the world.
The healthy and steady development of China-New Zealand relations not only benefits the two countries and peoples, but also is in the interest of Asia-Pacific region and even the whole world. I am very pleased to see that NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is on her way for her first official visit to China. A well-represented large delegation led by Infrastructure NZ has just concluded their fruitful visit to China, which was the first in the history. Next month, NZ Trade Minister David Parker will lead a delegation to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. In viewing of all these above, I am fully confident that China-NZ Tourism Year will be a year of opportunities, a year for friendship, and a year for cooperation.
It is my sincere hope that both sides will grasp the good opportunity of the China-NZ Year of Tourism to achieve tourism objectives, build stronger partnership, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and create a better and brighter future for our two countries and two peoples. And it is hoped that NZ will provide more convenience to Chinese tourists and favorable policy to attract Chinese investors to partner with NZ tourist related industries and infrastructure.
Finally, I wish China-New Zealand Tourism Year a resounding success. I wish everyone a great time tonight!