Home > The Body Politic > John Key, Minister for Tourism, MIA

John Key, Minister for Tourism, MIA

John Key is Prime Minister of New Zealand.

You wouldn’t believe it – but he’s also Minister for Tourism,




As Prime Minister, he has been an almost omni-present figure on television, radio, internet, print media, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

As Minister for Tourism, though, his presence has been more akin to a human “stealth-politician“. One has to think very, very, very hard to actually recall any achievements that Key has made in his role.

In fact… he has achieved practically nothing.

Even his cherished “baby“, the nationwide cycleway, has not been the outstanding achievement he proudly predicted it would be,

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs. ” – Source

It is worthwhile considering that of sixteen tourism-related press releases issued since February 2010 to December of this year, Key’s office was responsible for only eight. The remainder (twelve) came from then-associate Tourism Minister, Jonathan Coleman’s office. Source

And when it came to tourism-related  speeches made on this ministerial portfolio;  four were made by Jonathan Coleman; and three, in total,  were made by John Key  since his victory speech on 8 November 2008.  [1], [2], [3]

Not exactly an over-exertion on Key’s part. In fact, it’s a mediocre performance.

Perhaps the most extraordinary contradiction  of Key’s tenure as Crown minister is that he appears to be Minister of Hawaiian Tourism.

Every year, John Key takes his family – not to a New Zealand destination – but to his  holiday residence on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Personally, I wouldn’t  care a jot if John Key was Minister of Housing or Energy or Mushroom Farming – his choice of holiday destination would be irrelevant.

But Key is Minister of Tourism. His brief is to advocate on behalf of New Zealand and to promote this country as every holidaymakers’ first destination-choice.  As Key himself stated in a speech to the Hotel Industry Conference on  14 May, 2009,

It is a privilege to be New Zealand’s Minister of Tourism, to lead tourism in our beautiful country, and to promote our incredible scenery, our fine food and wine, our rich Maori culture, and the 100% pure experience.

Tourism is one of New Zealand’s most interesting industries. It has many different operators and many different customers.

And its success is hugely important for our future. Already, one-in-ten working New Zealanders are employed in the tourism sector. It accounts for around one dollar in every five of our export earnings. And it makes up about 10% of our economy.

We need to keep this in mind, because it shows just how much we stand to gain if our tourism industry keeps lifting its game.” – Source

I can’t see John Key promoting New Zealand from a beach in Hawaii.



It’s not exactly a Vote of Confidence in our own tourist  industry if our own leader takes of to overseas destinations. What signal does that send to others – that a beach on Maui is more desirable than Ninety Mile Beach or the Marlborough Sounds in NZ?

By contrast, his predecessor, Helen Clark, routinely holidayed locally. Her tramping trips into our incredible scenic wilderness – which Key refers to in his comment above – were legendary.

We should remember the excellent Colenso advertising campaign in 1984, which encouraged New Zealanders “Don’t Leave Home Till You’ve Seen The Country“.

If John Key is serious about encouraging tourism to “lift it’s game”,  he definitely needs to  either take the role more seriously – or pass the portfolio on to one of his colleagues.

Preferably one who actually enjoys holidaying in our own country.





Politicians relax with family



  1. 21 December 2011 at 11:35 am

    He has to spend some more time in what will probably be his home base when he moves on from being the PM of NZ and into a World Bank job in a couple of years. He will hold an early election and hopefully hand over to his unelectable assistant, Billy the Kid English. But of cause he will be shorn of his power at that early election.

    • 21 December 2011 at 11:49 am

      “…when he moves on from being the PM of NZ and into a World Bank job in a couple of years.”

      I’d bet money on that, Peter!

  2. Tom Sawyer
    23 December 2011 at 11:11 pm

    If it doesn’t involve a smile and wave photo op, he’s nowhere around to be seen. What a bloody surprise.

  3. Theodore
    4 January 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Minister of tourism my arse. I dont know why the guy bothers.

  1. 24 July 2014 at 6:59 am
  2. 29 July 2014 at 8:00 am

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