I had dinner with the Prime Minister last week. Granted, there were 298 other people in the room and we were at separate tables, but let's not allow the truth to stand in the way of a good story.

The occasion was the 2016 Tourism Industry Awards (TIAs) and JK was there not only as our PM, but also in his role as Minister of Tourism.

It's a pretty cushy portfolio to have. New Zealand's international visitor numbers are booming, but the minister can't take all the credit. It's thanks to the people working at the coalface - and down the Hobbit Hole, helming the jet boat, skiing the mountain, running the hotel - that the country is such a desirable place to visit.

In his welcoming speech at the TIAs, Key talked about consistency being the important factor in our tourism industry's future. How it's not necessarily about continuing to grow our visitor numbers, but instead making sure visitors want to return.


Numbers are probably not something we need to worry about over the next few months. Cruise season has now kicked off and we will be welcoming a multitude of big white ships to our ports throughout the summer.

I'll try to remember the Minister of Tourism's speech when I'm walking around downtown Auckland in a hurry. Yes, the boatloads of American tourists clogging up Queen St may be preventing me from making it to work on time, but that's really not a bad thing. They're helping keep our country great.

- stephanie.holmes@nzherald.co.nz