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Coronavirus delays Hastings tourism competition

A decision has been made this week to delay the Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism competition, given the uncertainty around the coronavirus outbreak.

Organiser Hastings District councillor Kevin Watkins says while it was disappointing to have to delay the most exciting part of the project, it was unavoidable.

"There are several things that have led to the decision," he says. "Firstly, we want to be able to provide dates of travel to China for the three winners, and that is not possible at this stage.

"Secondly, we had received advice that a major Chinese television network was intending to be in Hastings during the competition to make a documentary about the project; that is also not possible now."

The documentary would see Hastings beamed into millions of homes in China, the perfect culmination of a project designed to increase visitor numbers to the district and wider region. "We also understand that parents would be nervous about having their children travel to China at this time, so that is also a factor."

The news came as the last of the gifts arrived from the more than 20 regions in China that had partnered with Hastings for the project. "We have some incredibly beautiful gifts that we were so excited to share with our people and, of course, to challenge the minds of our students."

Kevin says he could not put a date on when the competition might be held, but confirmed that it would definitely go ahead "hopefully sooner rather than later".

The competition will see Hastings high school students solve clues that to match each of the gifts to its home region in China. The first three to correctly match all of the gifts will win free trips to China.

The Hastings project is part of the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, designed to increase cultural understanding and relationships between the two countries, leading to expanded tourism and trade opportunities.

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