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Flying visit strengthens sailing and trade ties

Flying visit strengthens sailing and trade ties
June 1, 2006

Yachting New Zealand chief executive Des Brennan acknowledges the key role played by North Shore City Council in a successful six-day flying visit to China to check out the 2008 Olympic sailing venue at Qingdao.

North Shore City Councillor Gary Holmes led the five-member trade delegation which comprised Mr Brennan and his Olympic operations manager Leslie Egnot, NZ Marine Industry Association boss Peter Busfield and the council’s economic development manager, Roger Matthews.

The foundations for the latest visit were set when Mayor George Wood and Prime Minister Helen Clark met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in early April.

Des Brennan says the council’s civic and cultural influence helped to open doors for his organisation as it prepares Kiwi sailors for the next Olympic regatta.

“Without North Shore City’s support, Leslie and I could not have fully assessed Qingdao’s preparation, and made the critical contacts. Our Olympic planning has made a major advance thanks to this initiative,” he says.

On May 25, Councillor Holmes and Vice Mayor Yu Chong from the Qingdao Municipal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), agreeing to work towards establishing a more formal relationship.

“Both cities (will) explore ways to actively promote social, cultural, sporting, scientific, environmental, technological and commercial exchanges, and to encourage goodwill, understanding and trust between their peoples,” according to the goodwill agreement.

Qingdao is a seaside city of 2.6 million people on the southern coast of the Shandong Peninsula bordering on the Yellow Sea. It attracts 22 million tourists from elsewhere in China each year and another 500,000 from overseas.

Chairman of North Shore City’s strategic management committee, Councillor Holmes, says Mr Matthews and he were pleased to assist Yachting NZ and is confident that the local marine industry can also reap rewards.

The delegation attended the Qingdao Boat Show held in the city that has set itself the goal of becoming the sailing and boating capital of China.

“North Shore City is affectionately known as New Zealand’s ‘cradle of yachting’ and home to a thriving boatbuilding industry. With this visit and others that have come before, we’re now well placed to take advantage of Qingdao’s growing demand for our skills and services.

“Our council has set itself economic development targets, including creating more high value jobs to employ more of our highly skilled residents close to home.

“This whistle-stop tour to Qingdao was no slow boat to China, and it should help our boatbuilders build their business in a growing market and, who knows, it may help us win a few more golds across the sea in 2008,” Gary Holmes says.

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- A one-hour flight south of Beijing, Qingdao is China’s third largest container port

- Qingdao is home to the head offices of both Haier and Hisense Electronics, and Tsingtao Brewery

- The NZ Government sent First Secretary Graham Morton from its Beijing Embassy to Qingdao to join the North Shore City delegation

- To strengthen educational ties, Councillor Holmes and Mr Matthews met the Qingdao Education Bureau to promote the idea of a senior student exchange between the cities’ secondary schools

- There is US$400 million invested in the Qingdao Olympic sailing venue which will be completed this year

- There will be a pre-Olympic regatta held in Qingdao in August this year – exactly two years before the big event

- It is estimated that there are currently less than 1000 recreational boats in China

- Qingdao is currently constructing China’s largest marina which is smaller than North Shore City’s own Bayswater Marina.


ENDS

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