Mayor sees hope for tourism boost

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 26/08/2014

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New Plymouth's sister city relationship could have positive spinoffs for the region's tourism market, mayor Andrew Judd says.

Judd was in Kunming last week to unveil a $90,000 garden the New Plymouth District Council had gifted to the city, and said the two cities shared similarities.

Both cities had a strong botanical focus and this could help to create tourism for both districts, Judd said.

The mayors of both cities were hoping to use the sister city relationship to encourage people to travel to garden festivals.

While New Plymouth has the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular, Kunming also had many garden festivals.

Another area of opportunity Judd and the mayor of Kunming, Li Wenrong, discussed was education exchanges.

The council's five representatives took over prospectuses from every high school and higher learning centre in Taranaki.

"They soaked them up like a sponge," Judd said.

"They just loved them."

Kunming officials were also interested in attracting students from Taranaki to their schools, he said.

The two cities had worked on establishing a relationship and it was now time for both cities to reap the rewards of that, Judd said.

While there would be no more $90,000 gardens, the two cities would be working together to come up with more tangible and long term benefits, he said.

Judd, who had previously spoken out against sister city relationships, said he enjoyed his trip to Kunming.

By the end of it he was much better with chopsticks than he was a month ago.

However, he had been tripped up by a spicy asian meal.

"I bit into a peppercorn and it was the hottest thing I've ever had in my life," he said.

He was joined in Kunming by deputy mayor Heather Dodunski, the council's chief cultural adviser Trenton Martin, Pukekura Park curator Chris Connolly and internal relations co-ordinator Julie Straka.

The four-day trip was expected to cost the council about $14,000, but Judd paid his own way.

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