Ashburton Mayor Donna Favel has advised that an Ashburton delegation is in China this week promoting education, tourism and business opportunities in the Ashburton District.
Deputy Mayor Neil Brown is leading the delegation, which includes Ashburton College Principal Ross Preece and Experience Mid Canterbury General Manager Bruce Moffat. Mr Preece is attending as a representative of the three English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) schools in the district - Ashburton College, Mount Hutt College and Ashburton Borough School.
During the seven day trip, the delegation will deliver 18 presentations to local government, education operators, students and parents in six cities throughout Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces. Mr Brown says the major focus of the promotional tour is to showcase Ashburton as a destination for study and vocational training. "We have world class educational facilities in Ashburton and we want to give overseas students the opportunity to take advantage of what we offer."
The promotional tour is likely to result in an initial group, of between 30 and 50 students, visiting the district in August this year. Mr Brown is hopeful this visits will lead to hundreds of full-time students enrolling in Ashburton schools over the next few years.
Mayor Favel says the district would be honoured to welcome the visiting students; "There is no greater sign of friendship or respect, than when we are trusted with another's greatest gift – their children."
The delegation has also been meeting with tourism bureaus, authorities and key outbound tour operators to promote Ashburton as a destination for Chinese tourists. "Ashburton District is the jewel of Canterbury, with rivers, mountains and lakes right on our doorstep. We really want Chinese people to be aware of this ahead of the 2019 China – New Zealand Year of Tourism," Mr Brown says.
Mayor Favel continues, "I have been in contact with each of the members of the delegation and consensus seems to be, it is going very well and they are excited at the potential opportunities for the Ashburton District."
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed by Christchurch Airport and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) will also help to grow tourism in the Ashburton region. The MOU will assist local businesses to tap into Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba through AliPay, a new point of sale system connecting New Zealand businesses directly to Chinese visitors and web-based travel store Fliggy. Some Ashburton District tourism operators have already applied to use the AliPay facility.