Hastings has been in the top five New Zealand cities covered by China’s largest news agency, Xinhua, over the past few months – with a focus on the Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism project.
The Hastings Blossom Festival is the latest news to make it in front of Xinhua’s audience of millions.
While the whole parade was covered, it was the Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism float which piqued the agency’s interest.
"This is exactly what the Year of Tourism is about," says Hastings district councillor and project director Kevin Watkins.
"The Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism is certainly raising Hastings’ profile in front of millions of people in China, putting our beautiful district and wider region in front of them so when they are planning a holiday to New Zealand, they know we are a place they should visit."
The parade also featured on China-org’s media feed, in the Asia Pacific Daily, and through the network of the China Culture Centre in Wellington.
"Surprisingly, we also got coverage in Namibia which we weren’t expecting, but we welcome interest in Hastings from anywhere."
The ACHYOT builds on the strong trade, educational and friendship relationships Hastings has with regions across China. It is part of the national China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, designed to increase cultural understanding and relationships between the two countries, leading to expanded tourism and trade opportunities. Many New Zealand regions are involved in projects under the national programme, however Hastings’ is unique amongst them.
Hastings is sending a treasure chest holding a gift representing the district to each participating region in China. In return, each of those regions is sending a treasure chest to Hastings, holding something that uniquely represents their region.
The project will then morph into a competition for Hastings secondary school students in early 2020, with participants researching to match the contents of the China chests with their home region. The first three to get them right will win trips to China.
"By combining the parade and the ACHYOT, we have been able to reach millions of people in China," says Kevin.
"That country is about to being the largest groups of tourists to our shores. They are much more independent than the traditional Chinese tourist and are looking for new and different places to visit, outside of the traditional Auckland, Rotorua and Queenstown.
"We want to make sure we are on their radar."
Media coverage in China has included the Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism project, the official China launch of the project in Beijing, and the Blossom Parade. The next coverage will be the contents of the chests going to China.