Hon. Minister Kelvin Davis,
Respected MP Raymond Huo,
Hon MP Judith Collins,
President and Worship Mayor Dave Cull,
Respected Worship Mayors, Councilors,
Distinguished guests,ladies and gentlemen,
I am so honored and pleased to join so many distinguished guests and friends here today at this great event. At the outset, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Auckland, to extend my congratulations on this warming up ceremony of 2019 China NZ Year of Tourism, and my warmest welcome to all the distinguished guests and friends from both China and NZ. At this special occasion, I would like to extend my appreciation to China National Tourist Office in Sydney, China Chamber of Commerce in NZ, NZ Maori Tourism, China Travel Service and many others for their hard work and strenuous efforts to make this wonderful event possible. I also wish to take this opportunity to express my special thanks to friends from all walks of life for your support to the promotion of mutual understanding, co-operations and people to people exchanges between China and NZ.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good relationship of countries lies in the closeness of people's contacts and is based on the affection of peoples. Over the past years, the people to people exchanges and cooperation have maintained in a very strong momentum of development, which greatly consolidates the bilateral ties between our two countries. China and NZ bilateral relationship was upgraded to comprehensive strategic partnership during President Xi Jinping's state visit to NZ in 2014. During that visit, President Xi Jinping praised NZ's "100 per cent pure" and stated "NZ is the most talked about destination for the Chinese tourists". Last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to NZ also yielded significant fruits including in the area of tourism, giving a strong push to this relationship. One of the achievements in this regard is the announcement of 2019 as China NZ Year of Tourism, aiming to further unleash the potential of cooperation in tourism between China and NZ.
Tourism has been an important bridge for enhancing mutual understanding and friendship among peoples. In recent years, the tourism cooperation between China and NZ has been growing very fast. NZ's natural spectacular scenery, pleasant climate, friendly people, high level of economic and social development and particularly the hometown of Mr Rewi Alley, a great hero and dear friend of the Chinese people, are attracting more and more Chinese travelers to NZ. According to latest statistics, in the past year to August 2018, two-way tourists reached 580,000, with more than 450,000 Chinese tourists coming to NZ. Now, China is NZ's second largest tourist resource country in terms of both arrivals and spending. The increase in airline connectivity and capacity reflects and contributes to this fast growing China's 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 China's major cities, such as Beijing, HK, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Chongqing, very soon Xian and Auckland, with over 150 nonstop flights back and forth per week in peak season. The rapid growth of tourism has become a strong driving force in promoting exchanges and cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, aviation connectivity, infrastructure, culture, education and others, bringing many more job opportunities to the local market.
China and NZ are faced with huge opportunities in developing our cooperation in tourism, here I would like to name a few:
First, tourism is an extremely important driver of NZ's economic growth, accounting for 17.9% of its GDP. It plays a significant role in producing goods and services and creating employment opportunities. There is an incredible amount of potential for Chinese tourists to deliver even more benefits to NZ's economic booming. According to the latest statistics by NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, by 2024 China is expected to become NZ's largest tourism market with spending to reach $3.1 billion annually. China is expected to contribute to 27.4 per cent of total international visitor growth from 2017 to 2024, and 38 per cent of total visitor spending.
Second, the 19th National Congress of the CPC outlined a grand blueprint for China's modernization and rejuvenation in the new era, which lays stress on people-centered development as well as reform and opening up, which will surely provide more opportunities for tourism cooperation between China and other countries. With the increase of people's living standard, Chinese travelers' purpose for making outbound trips has changed from just simply sightseeing and shopping to enjoying high-quality services. The number of outbound trips reached 130 million and an estimated 115.29 billion USD was spent last year. In next fives years,Chinese outbound travelors are expected to be 700 million.
Third, NZ is the natural extension of 21st maritime silk road and the very first western country to sign the BRI cooperation document with China. BRI is about to bring trade, investment,infrastructure, people to people together to achieve win-win results.Earlier this year, NZ-China Council recommended in its Belt and Road Initiative report that the conduit to South America be one of the key areas of the BRI cooperation. This would not only further consolidate the status of NZ as an ideal tourist destination for more Chinese travelers, but also help build NZ as an international transportation hub. The example vividly demonstrates how the BRI could bring great benefits for NZ.
Fourth, in China-NZ Tourism Year, the two sides will hold a series of rich and colorful activities, ushering in more opportunities for the tourism industries and the in-depth exchanges and cooperation in various fields in both countries. This November, China's first International Import Expo will be held in Shangai. And Next year, the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in China. We hope NZ will grasp thest opportunites to tap cooperative potential in tourism and other sectors with China.
Fifth,the rising demand for accommodation and related facilities in tourist hot spots of NZ, provides enormous opportunity for Chinese investors. Many Chinese entrepreneurs and companies are keen to invest in New Zealand's tourism related infrastructure. It is hoped that NZ will provide more favorable policies and environment to attract Chinese investors and tourists. I also welcome you to visit China to see China's natural beauty, enjoy the richness of its culture, and experience constantly improving tourist infrastructure and public services, and contribute to better mutual understanding between China and New Zealand.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my sincere hope that both sides could grasp the good opportunity of the China-New Zealand 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.
I wish the event a full success.