There will inevitably be some who begrudge the amount of time Jacinda Ardern spends out of New Zealand from next month promoting this country as "open for business".
Not simply because they wish her out of the way — as some undoubtedly do. Two years of that all-too-relentless "podium of truth" where Covid has frequently been the sole issue du jour can do that to people.
Instead, Ardern's critics should celebrate her decision to lead the repositioning of New Zealand as our borders are relaxed.
Ardern now has the opportunity to not only reposition herself as the leader of her Government — after all, such trips provide plenty of colourful photo opportunities for prime ministers with travelling news media — but also New Zealand as she prepares to lead missions to Asia (Singapore and Japan), the West Coast of the United States, Europe and possibly even Australia at some stage.
The Government's "bus" — as insiders dub the Air Force 757 — is being prepped for the Asian swing and invitations have gone out to business representatives to join the PM-led mission. They're expected to be away during the period from Easter Weekend to Anzac Day.
A register of names has also been sought for a high-tech mission to the US West Coast in late May.
The Government is hoping it can leverage the "work from anywhere" culture which has emerged as a result of the Covid pandemic to attract more US investment and provide an environment where American tech companies can leverage our lower energy costs (think data centres), brains (think academic scientific centres), and our "values", which have come to the fore as a result of the way this country handled Covid.
The latter is said to be of growing interest to American firms which are contemplating planting offshoots here to capitalise on the Kiwi way of life as a way of staying attractive to younger staffers.
Ardern is also expected to lead more trips later in the year — particularly to Europe for the announcement of a free trade deal with the EU, assuming the Ukraine crisis does not impede momentum. The legwork for that deal has been put in place by Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O'Connor and Vangelis Vitalis, the deputy secretary of trade at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Completion of the long-running negotiations is highly anticipated. Already, the UK-New Zealand deal has been signed, which offers another boost to this economy in the long run.
Ardern does not have the easy familiarity with business leaders of one of her National predecessors, Sir John Key. He led multiple missions offshore — seven to China alone. On his second trip to India, the 757 broke down in Townsville.
Getting to the US is also no easy feat for the 757. For a memorable swing through Latin America, the Key bus had to first bunny-hop to Samoa to refuel, then overnight in Honolulu before touching down in San Diego and then push on to Mexico City. Sensibly, Ardern will take a commercial flight to the United States.
With Air New Zealand's announcement this week that it is reactivating its North American flight schedules and preparing for its inaugural direct flight to New York City in September, having the Prime Minister on board offers great promotional opportunity for the airline.
On these missions Ardern will straddle international affairs as well as business.
In May 2019, New Zealand and Singapore launched an Enhanced Partnership to significantly boost collaboration in the areas of trade and economics; security and defence; science and innovation; and people-to-people links.
Ardern has forged a close relationship with the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Singapore joined New Zealand in forming a Digital Economic Partnership Agreement and is an ally in striving for trade liberalisation to deepen in a time when protectionist instincts are growing.
As a liberal democracy and market economy, Japan is also a friend in an increasingly hostile world.
As well, Japan is a priority science partner for New Zealand, a source of investment and potential partner in the development of a green hydrogen industry here.
These politically-led visits matter because they also enable national leaders to get their priorities onto the host nation's agenda.
Ardern got to work with all the Apec Leaders — including Russia's Vladimir Putin — during her year hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Leaders' meeting.
But her face-to-face visits will cement high-level relationships after two years of Zoom calls.
"Brand Jacinda" is a powerful weapon to have in New Zealand's foreign affairs — and now trade and business — arsenal.
Whether you are turned on, or off, by the cheesy recognition Ardern gets from the likes of the US Late Show host Stephen Colbert; her links with a lineup of seemingly preternaturally woke political leaders such as France's Emmanuel Macron or Canada's Justin Trudeau; or the image of her shaking hands with the Queen — Ardern pregnant and resplendent in a traditional Māori cloak or korowai — she undoubtedly has international cut-through.
After more than two years cooped up in New Zealand — reliant either on someone "in the know" or winning a spot in the MIQ lottery to get back into the country — businesspeople will be happy to bank her brand and leverage the missions to promote their companies to customers.
Everyone's a winner.