Mayor Lisa Helps, Coun. Margaret Lucas and two senior City staffers and a team of business and educational representatives leave Sunday for a 10-day trade and cultural mission to China and Japan. News file photo

City sending delegates on trade mission to China, Japan

$28,000 cost to local taxpayers well worth the investment, mayor says

Members of Victoria council and two senior City staff leave for a 10-day trip to China and Japan on Sunday to discuss trade and tourism.

Mayor Lisa Helps, Coun. Margaret Lucas, acting city manager Jocelyn Jenkins and Kerri Moore, manager of strategic relations and business development, will join representatives of eight Victoria-area companies, the South Island Prosperity Project, Camosun College and Tourism Victoria for meetings in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai in China, and Morioka, Japan.

The group will be discussing trade agreements in clean technology, manufacturing, education, film and tourism.

Travel expenses for the city representatives, totalling roughly $28,000, will be covered by Victoria taxpayers, while expenses for others on the trip are paid for by their organizations.

Helps is hoping this year’s trade mission will be as lucrative as one that City representatives took last year.

“Cost deliverables from last year were: the ability for Tourism Victoria to close more business [deals] than it would have, the $300,000 worth of [media] exposure, having U-bicycle choose Victoria as its first North American city … and the relationships we built,” she said.

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Helps said her presence as a Canadian mayor was well-received and allowed her to make the personal connections needed to establish good relationships with Chinese businesses. Last year, she met Grace Min, North American CEO of U-bicycle, who was looking for a North American city to launch from. The bike-sharing service opened last month in Victoria.

“Mayors hold a very prestigious place in Chinese society, because in China, it’s all the mayors who collect taxes and disperse them to the province and the federal government,” Helps said. “Those who hold the purse strings are seen as powerful.”

Stops on the trip include the Destination Canada Showcase Asia held in Beijing for Canadian, Chinese and South Korean buyers and sellers; B2B meetings in Shanghai; the Canadian Consulate General’s official residence; the Morioka Hachiman shrine; and Morioka and Iwate universities.

Local businesses joining the City of Victoria on the trip are: Limbic Media, ASAsoft Canada Ltd., Arbutus Cove Enterprises, Canadian Migration Institute, Mitu Investments Canada, Randy Lennon Media Inc., Ayase International, CAVU Designwerks and DreamCraft Attractions Ltd.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com