BUNDABERG'S sister city Nanning has gifted an extra $1million to the region to remodel the Chinese gardens at the Botanic Gardens.
The money comes on top of $600,000 already promised for the project and after Mayor Jack Dempsey, Cr David Batt, Cr Peter Heuser and Cr Ross Sommerfeld visited China at ratepayer's expense.
The estimated $8000 spent by ratepayers on the trip came into question while the delegation was overseas but council says the money was well spent.
They say the people of Bundaberg are set to reap a lifelong dividend from the $1.6million committed by Nanning officials during the delegation to the Chinese Sister City.
The money for the garden is just a small part of more investment to come, according to Mayor Jack Dempsey, with an Australian born Chinese investor signing a $5million property deal and looking into other opportunities in the region.
A buoyant Cr Dempsey said while he had been prepared for solid results from the visit the outcomes of across-the-table talks with Nanning government, trade and investment officials had far exceeded expectation.
"This generous commitment will ensure the redeveloped Nanning Gardens will become a centrepiece attraction of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens," Cr Dempsey said.
"Due to the high visitor traffic the revamped gardens will generate once completed, this really is the gift that keeps on giving.
"I am excited for the future of our region and the immense benefits that will emerge as we drill down into the foundations of this 18 year relationship we have with Nanning.
"For years the relationship has revolved around four key pillars of interest - agriculture, education, tourism and aviation.
"I believe we can add investment into those dynamics.
"Our Nanning connection has been instrumental in guiding a Chinese born Australian citizen to identify Bundaberg as a desirable location for investment.
"This gentlemen has invested somewhere in the order of $5 million recently into property and other projects locally and this would only appear to be the start of a Nanning generated investment boom for the region.
"These investments are agriculturally based but there is also an expectation of commercial development as well.
"It is this bricks and mortar investment that we want to encourage in the Bundaberg Region.
"Our trip to Nanning was taken at the invitation of Mayor Zhou and I believe we extended an essential courtesy in accepting that invitation to travel.
"A measure of the respect and regard in which Bundaberg is held was exemplified by an invitation for me, as Mayor of the Bundaberg Region - the Number One relationship in Nanning's 20 Sister City relationships - to speak at a convention involving all Sister City nationalities and to officially open the event.
"My address canvassed the platforms that created the basis for such a successful and awarded relationship.
"I was extremely proud to speak of our joint achievements, the manner in which Nanning had been so respectful and supportive of our community, especially in tough times.
"The relationship between Bundaberg and Nanning has been awarded as the best relationship nationally by both the Chinese and Australian Sister City Associations.
"The trip allowed us to explore new initiatives including a visit to the city of Guilin where we engaged with the Deputy Mayor in discussions centred on tourism.
"We gained a commitment from four key tourism wholesalers that they will be undertaking a visit to the Bundaberg Region in the near future to explore our tourism potential.
"On several occasions in China and Hong Kong we met with Commissioners from Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ) and Austrade.
"Bundaberg's produce and means of getting it to those markets was widely discussed.
"We are not waiting for other official parties to progress these discussions.
"We are a proactive Council working hard for tangible outcomes and positive benefits for our residents and our region.
"To assist in achieving that we are utilising the 18-year investment in time and protocols we have successfully made with Nanning.
"Realistically the Bundaberg Region is by far the beneficiary of this Sister City relationship.
"Nanning has been exceedingly generous in its desire to fully develop our relationship.
"Annually they provide performers for our Chinese New Year celebrations, they provided a brand new Lion and Dragon costume for the PCYC Blazers, they provided financial support to repair the flood damage to the gardens and this amounted to $10,000 in 2013 and every year they are supplying students to CQUniversity.
"I really think our residents need to evaluate this as a choice between a council sitting here doing nothing or endeavouring to liaise and engage with our friends and welcome them to our door."