Industry backs Paula Bennett as Tourism Minister

Paula Bennett and Bill English (Getty)
Paula Bennett and Bill English (Getty)

The head of the Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) says years of experience alongside John Key makes Paula Bennett the right pick for Tourism Minister.

Ms Bennett, the Deputy Prime Minister, picked up the portfolio as part of Bill English's Cabinet reshuffle.

"Paula Bennett's been well across the issues that we've been discussing with the Government for some time," says TIA chief executive Chris Roberts.

"Those are issues arising from the success the industry is having, and the pressures from that growth. We need more investment in infrastructure, and we need more investment in our workforce."

Mr Roberts says the industry has experienced huge growth in the past few years under former Prime Minister John Key's guidance. Annual revenue has grown from $28 billion to $34.7 billion in just two years.

"In terms of New Zealand's economic performance, having tourism represented at the highest levels of Government is very important because it is a major component of our economy," says Mr Roberts.

"[Ms Bennett's] been a very able assistant to the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key for the last two years as Associate Tourism Minister, so there's some continuity there. She understands… its importance to New Zealand."

Ms Bennett, who also picked up the Police and Women portfolios, will be assisted in the role by new Associate Minister of Tourism Nicky Wagner.

The TIA is also pleased with Ms Wagner's appointment.

"As Customs Minister, Ms Wagner has already had considerable influence over the experiences our visitors have when they arrive at our border, and TIA would look forward to working with her," says Mr Roberts.

"Mr Key was a great supporter of the tourism industry - for example, his vision for the New Zealand Cycle Trail has allowed a new visitor segment to be developed - and we hope Mrs Bennett and Ms Wagner will continue his good work."