Bundy councillor's change of heart on China
A BUNDABERG councillor who criticised last year's council trip to Chinese sister city as a "junket” has got on board with this year's visit.
Greg Barnes said he had weighed up the value of this year's trip and will join councillors Scott Rowleson and Bill Trevor and CEO Stephen Johnston on the 10-day journey next month.
"Last year I wasn't happy so I pulled out,” Cr Barnes said.
"You have to be so careful with these kinds of things.
"If I thought this trip wasn't justified, I wouldn't go.”
This time around Cr Barnes said he was satisfied with the full schedule of appointments he expected to benefit the region.
"I have arranged a lot of appointments with tourism operators and wholesalers,” he said.
The tourism and regional development spokesman will promote Bundaberg as a Great Barrier Reef destination to the lucrative Chinese market.
"In their mind Cairns is still the only place you can see the reef from,” he said.
"We have to push where we are and what we've got.
"We have so many Chinese come out and they're amazed - they look at the sky and see stars.”
The council will cover airfare costs of about $1200 per delegate and the rest, including accommodation, meals and internal travel, will be covered by hosts in Nanning.
Cr Barnes said the Nanning trips delivered "real results”, including the "ongoing influx” of students from Nanning to CQ University and to Bundaberg high schools.
"The current redevelopment of the Nanning Gardens at the Botanic Gardens is being funded by the Nanning Municipal Peoples Government with more than $1.2 million contributed.
"During the visit the delegation will engage in further discussions focussing on port to port relationships which have assumed heightened importance with the announced development at the Port as well as the identified State Development Area.”
He also said there had been Chinese purchases of land in Bargara and rural properties as a result of contacts made last year, and said the Bundaberg-Nanning relationship was the envy of other sister cities.
"The Bundaberg name is all around Nanning.
"Next year is the 20th anniversary of our sister city, and we won best sister city relationship in China in 2015.
"This one will bring back dividends, there's no bones about it.”
Cr Barnes will travel to his home country of Hong Kong, where he lived until the age of 18, before the trip and will "pay his own way” before flying from Hong Kong to Nanning with the rest of the group.