WELLINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The Guilin-Hastings friendship bus, a brand new electric driven tour bus, made its debut in China's Guilin city on Saturday, highlighting the launching of the Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism.
New Zealand's Hastings District Senior Councilor and Project Director Kevin Watkins acknowledged the strong ties between Hastings and Guilin, a city in southern China.
"We were astonished and delighted to see a brand new electric driven tour bus dedicated to the Guilin-Hastings sister cities relationship. This is a great initiative by all involved in Guilin," Watkins told Xinhua via phone.
"Given Hasting's strong ties with China -- we were the first city to form a sister-city relationship with a city [Guilin] in China -- it made sense for us to make the very best of this opportunity," he said.
The district has strong economic links with China, through horticulture exports and international education, and many friendly-city relationships.
The Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism has been officially endorsed by the New Zealand Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis, Tourism New Zealand, and The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. It is part of the China New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019, an initiative agreed to by China's Premier Li Keqiang and the New Zealand government in 2017.
"The Amazing China-Hastings Year of Tourism will lead to a comprehensive network of friendship and other more formal relationships in many areas. My goal is to see Hastings recognized in China as a city and district serious to extend the warmest welcome and serious to engage in economic development across a wide range of disciplines," Watkins said.