Hon Mr. Phil Golf, Mayor of Auckland,
Mr. Dave Cull, President of LGNZ and Mayor of Dunedin,
Mayors Gary Tong, Steve Chadwick, Tim Shadbolt and other worship majors,
Councilors, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here today joining so many old and new friends at this great event. First of all, I would like to extend my warm congratulations to China Travel Service for organizing this Expo, which provides an important platform to showcase NZ various tourist attractions and resources of both NZ and China, and offers valuable opportunities for all tourism related parties to make connections, communications and cooperation among each other. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all the friends present here for your hard work in making this event possible, and for your contribution in promoting mutual understanding, friendship and co-operations between China and NZ.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tourism is one of the most important contents in building the Belt & Road Initiative between China and NZ, and a significant bridge for enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between China and NZ. In recent years, tourism exchanges and cooperation has been growing very fast. According to latest statistics, in the past year to August 2018, two-way personnel exchanges amounted to as many as 580,000, with more than 450,000 Chinese tourists having visited NZ. Now, China is NZ's largest trade partner and the No.1 source country of international students and the second largest tourism market, and is expected to become NZ's largest tourism market in a few years. From aviation connectivity to infrastructure, the cooperation in tourism-related industry has also been greatly enhanced. Up to now, almost all China's major airlines and NZ airline operate direct flights between Auckland and big cities of China, reaching more than 150 flights back and forth per week at peak time and the number is still growing. Many hotels and other projects and business are underway or to come. I firmly believe that the 2019 China-NZ Year of Tourism will further boost the cooperation in tourism, and make new contributions to promoting China-NZ relations.
China is such a fascinating country with abundant tourist resources, such as unique and picturesque landscape, rich history, cultural relics, friendly and hardworking people, and fast economic and social development. Last year, the 19th National Congress of the CPC painted a grand blueprint for China's future development by the middle of this century, providing more opportunities for the tourism cooperation between China and NZ. According to a Chinese saying, traveling thousands of miles is better than reading thousands of books. Chinese travelers' focus of making outbound trips has changed from just simply for sightseeing and shopping to enjoying high-quality services. Considering this, NZ will surely become an even more popular destination for Chinese tourists in the coming years. We also welcome you to visit China, discover a treasure trove of tourist resources, learn about the enchantment of Chinese history, its 5000 years' uninterrupted civilization and culture, and make Chinese friends. Today's Expo, one of the warming up activities for 2019 China and NZ tourist year, is playing a leading role in giving our two peoples a clearer picture of the lifestyle and travel impressions of China and NZ. It will help promote the sharing of tourism resources between our two countries, enhance mutual understanding between our two peoples, and strengthen friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is my sincere hope that NZ will continue to create a welcoming atmosphere and continue to provide more convenience for Chinese tourists. We are ready to work together with NZ to forge stronger partnership, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and create a better and brighter future for our two countries and two peoples.
At last, I wish the Expo a great success, and everyone a pleasant time.