Chinese Consul-General Jin Zhijian tours Central Otago, talks trade and tourism
It started with a swanky Central Otago feast in Clyde and was followed up by boating and fast cars, but there was a serious side to People's Republic of China Consul-General Jin Zhijian's visit to the region.
He was in Central Otago to talk trade and tourism and new mayor Tim Cadogan said it could not be understated how "very important" the visit was for the region.
"I think it's hugely important to have him come here in person," Cadogan said.
"He seems very interested and focussed on trade and building on the relationship with Central Otago. He will be talking to the people on his side."
Zhijian was very interested in trade, especially when he, wife He Linyun, Cadogan and Central Otago District Council economic development manager Warwick Hawker visited councillor Stephen Jeffery's Fairview Orchard near Roxburgh on Tuesday morning.
Cherries were the main topic of conversation with Zhijian eager to see where and how they were grown and how within 48 hours, they could be in Chinese households. Wine and dairy exports were also widely discussed.
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Cadogan and Zhijian, who is based in Christchurch, covered tourism over dinner at Olivers Restaurant in Clyde on Monday evening.
"I've taken as much of an opportunity to showcase our district and what it has to offer as we possibly can ... [and] I learned a lot from him about how to attract Chinese to Central Otago," Cadogan said.
Zhijian said Central Otago was important for Chinese tourism as well as trade as many Chinese made their lives in the region during the gold rush and visitors were learning of its significance.
"This region is very, very important. In the past few years we have noticed that more and more Chinese visitors are coming to this region. Whether we can create more destinations, more attractions this way, that is the question," he said.
"At the moment the purpose of this visit is to get some first-hand experience and to work out the best ways to enhance this region. It could be rather beneficial for the two communities."
Zhijian and his entourage followed up the orchard tour with a boat cruise to Chinese goldmining huts along the banks of the Clutha River before being treated to lunch at Carrick Wines near Cromwell and activities at Highlands Motorsport Park.
He had "very much enjoyed" the Central Otago hospitality.
"I have noticed that the local people are so warm-hearted. This area is very special."
The visit followed talks with Queenstown-Lakes Mayor Jim Boult on Monday with Zhijian departing the region for Franz Josef on Tuesday evening.