THE Provost is going to China on a mission to woo tourists and  investment to South Ayrshire. 

Provost Helen Moonie and an official will pack their bags for the trip to the Shandong Province in October after receiving an invitation. 

The trip will cost £2,000 for flights from council cash. The Chinese will pick up the tab for accommodation and transport in Shandong. 

The move comes after a Chinese delegation from the large city of Liaocheng visited Ayr in November last year. 

South Ayrshire Chief Executive Eileen Howat said failing to accept the invitation means the area could miss opportunities. But Councillor Martin Dowey slammed Provost Moonie’s quest in China as a waste of cash. 

Depute council leader Councillor Brian McGinley said: “The Chinese have said they are keen to establish tourist links. They want to send tourists here.”

Speaking at the council’s Leadership Panel the Labour councillor said: “It is an important step forward in developing our relationship with China.

“They base their decision making on friendship and trust. It is difficult to know what the outcome of this will be but it is another step in the journey.”

Provost Moonie’s schedule would include attending the  International Friendly Cities Conference in Jinan in  Shandong.

Conservative councillor Martin Dowey said the Provost is the wrong person to send although he did not object to the trip in principle.

He called for council leader councillor Douglas Campbell and council boss Eileen Howat to travel.

He said: “This should be led by the leader of the council and the CEO and a leading member of the economic development department. They and they alone have the power to make decisions and sign letters of agreement, should they happen.The role of the provost is by its very nature, the civic head of the council and as such has no political influence or power.

“This is a waste of the council’s resources and more importantly a waste of the residents’ of South Ayrshire’s money.”