Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull will lead a Dunedin delegation to China next month focused on strengthening existing ties and unlocking further economic opportunities for the city, particularly in the areas of tourism, education and trade.
The delegation will visit Dunedin's sister city Shanghai, friendship city Qingdao, as well as Beijing, Guangzhou and Qingyuan. The delegation includes representatives from Dunedin City Council, Otago Chamber of Commerce, University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and Dunedin tourism operators and businesses.
Mr Cull says, "Dunedin values its relationship with China. This trip will continue to move the relationship forward from its strong civic and cultural roots into the economic development sphere leading with our education, tourism, trade, technology and environmental interests.
"Several key agreements will be signed during the trip which will further open the door for Dunedin education providers and local businesses to access Chinese markets."
Mr Cull will first visit Beijing from 5-7 June for the UNESCO Creative Cities Summit. Mayors and policy makers of UNESCO Creative Cities, academics and experts from all over the world will gather at this event, which will explore more innovative and effective ways of integrating culture and creativity into policy making with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development in cities.
Mr Cull's flights to and from China, as well as accommodation in Beijing for the Summit, are being paid for by the Summit organisers.
From Beijing, Mr Cull will travel to Dalian to witness the launch of a joint engineering programme between Otago Polytechnic and Dalian Ocean University. The Mayor will then join the rest of the Dunedin delegation in Qingdao for the beginning of two weeks of high level meetings with a range of civic, education and business leaders in Qingdao, Beijing, Shanghai and Qingyuan.
Key meetings and events include the re-negotiation of Dunedin's Sister City agreement with Shanghai, the launch of a programme between the University of Otago and Shanghai's Jiao Tong University, and the Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Dunedin signing respective commerce and tourism MOUs with the Qingyuan Foreign Affairs Office.
Enterprise Dunedin Director John Christie says that over the last year a number of new and existing relationships have been developed between Dunedin and China.
"A few examples from the education sector are the largest education agency in China working closely with Enterprise Dunedin to bring Chinese students to Dunedin, co-operative early childhood projects have been developed between the University of Otago and the Western International School of Shanghai and the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic signing memoranda of understanding with their Chinese counterparts.
"Over 1,000 Chinese international secondary and tertiary students studied in Dunedin last year, which brought obvious economic and cultural benefits. With over 4,000 international students annually, the vital sector is worth $165 million to Dunedin's regional economy," he says.
Dunedin has also seen a boost in tourist numbers from China on the back of stronger ties and China Southern Airlines flying directly between Guangzhou and Christchurch from December 2015.
Mr Christie says the upcoming trip is an opportunity to further extend existing relationships between Dunedin and China, strengthen economic ties and promote Dunedin as an international education destination. More information about specific events and signings will be released during the delegation's visit.
Contact Dave Cull, Mayor of Dunedin on 03 477 4000.