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Bringing China to the regions

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Kate de Lautour

It’s not often that influential groups from the Chinese business sector make their way to the regions.

More often than not, it’s the larger centres taking the opportunity to share their wares with key trade visitors, however that’s set to change as regional economic development agency Business Hawke’s Bay develops closer links with the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

The Chengdu delegation, predominately Chamber of Commerce members from a cross section of industries, including food, wine, health and leisure, were in Hawke’s Bay as an adjunct to the Ethnic People in Commerce NZ 2013 Conference, held in Auckland. “Connecting the Regions” tours were offered, hosted by the Office of Ethnic Affairs, and coordinated locally by Business Hawke’s Bay food facilitator Lyn Cheyne.

Office of Ethnic Affairs senior intercultural advisor Mark Chan says the aim of the tour was to showcase regional high growth industries.

“We wanted to show this group that “New Zealand 100 per cent Pure” doesn’t only apply to the big cities - the regions have a lot to offer as well.”

 Chan said the group had been keen to visit Hawke’s Bay because of the food and wine sectors, and they liked what they saw.

“They were very impressed and some may be already securing exclusive distributorships with a few wineries.”

The delegation also spent a considerable amount of money on wines to take home, including clearing the Trinity Hill cellar door of the Homage Syrah, priced at $120 per bottle.

Trinity Hill chief executive Michael Henley said the delegation was the ideal type of visitor to be attracting from China.

“Not only are there business opportunities to be developed but these people will be talking about Hawke’s Bay to their networks and this will encourage more high spend visitors to the region.”

The success of the “Connecting the Region’s” tour is likely to result in more of the same.

“We will continue working with EDANZ and the EDAs on future projects,” Chan said.

Business Hawke’s Bay Advisory Group member and Hastings District Council economic development manager Steve Breen agreed the early outcomes of the visit had been positive with Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule now planning time to meet with leaders of the group, during an upcoming visit to China.

“So far we have seen this group making firm connections with businesses they would be keen to work with, including purchasing Hawkes Bay’s premium high value wines from a number of boutique wineries, and forming links with our education sector which has strong potential.

“All this crystallizes our aims around getting real trade with China moving.”

Breen says the future success of these visits hinges on the collaborative nature of Business Hawke’s Bay, including work from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and input from Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT).

“We are now working on following up the leads and conversations that have been started and trade inquiries are progressing.”