Napier City Council could soon be forging a friendship with the Chinese city of Qidong following a recent trip made by Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule.

Providing an update on his January visit to the country at yesterday's council meeting, Mr Yule told councillors that he met with people in Shanghai to look at a potential hotel investor after which he spent two days in Qidong, which is not far from the city's international airport.

"Out of that, I circulated the opportunity for either a friendship or a sister city relationship with a council in New Zealand," he said.

"Bearing in mind that 33 of the councils in New Zealand already have relationships that is not an easy thing to do."

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Mr Yule said he also discussed the opportunity with Hawke's Bay Regional Council, in addition to Napier council, because in his view there was a significant economic upside right on the edge of Shanghai - where bridge and roading has just gone in, making it a suburb that is "about to explode".

"I am pleased to say, in a preliminary sense, Napier City Council has done an economic assessment of the opportunities around this relationship," he said.

"And look likely to proceed with a friendship or sister city relationship post my visit."

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said while his council had not spoken with Qidong but instead with their agents, he felt very strongly about sister city relationships.

"We said yes we are interested in a relationship but it must be trade and commercial based rather than just socially and culturally based," he said.

"The social and cultural things will follow."

Mr Yule said people from Qidong are expected to be here at the end of this month or early April.

"So I think it is a really good outcome, I think there is opportunity," he said.

"For another council in this region to pick that up is significant."

Mr Yule also touched on his follow-up on an economic opportunity that has been worked on for the past three years and his time spent with potential hotel investors.

He said he couldn't speak further on them in a public forum because they were both of a commercially sensitive nature.

Following the presentation, councillor Simon Nixon questioned the lack of detail in such reports which made it hard for council to decide whether or not such trips were good or bad investments.

Hastings council economic development manager Craig Cameron said he was not in a position to comment on the past, but he had put into the new adviser's contract that, where possible, economic metric measures are to be put in place.

"So that we can start measuring the outcomes that have been achieved."