PM will keep tourism role

In a Monty Python moment, Prime Minister John Key praised himself as Minister of Tourism for doing a "wonderful job", and said he planned to continue with the tourism portfolio.

Mr Key taking on the role as tourism minister has been widely praised by industry leaders, and raised the profile of the high-flying sector, which is responsible for one in 10 jobs and accounts for 20% of export receipts.

The Prime Minister said he was doing a "wonderful job" as tourism minister and planned to continue in the role.

He told more than 60 media delegates at the Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand conference in Auckland yesterday the industry had been "undercooked" by the previous government.

"My role as prime minister is to try and elevate that."

The Government believed tourism, along with other sectors, such as food production, would be the main economic drivers for the country, he said.

That faith had resulted in Tourism New Zealand receiving an additional $25 million, and $5 million for regional tourism organisations in this year's Budget.

Mr Key said 2011 was shaping up as one of the most important for the sector, largely due to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He singled out the Dunedin stadium for special mention, with the complex set to go "close to the wire".

The roofed stadium would incorporate the latest technology and was "on track and will be completed before the Rugby World Cup".

In addition to the world cup, Mr Key said he was supportive of the cycleways initiative, which was based on the successful Central Otago Rail Trail.

"It is the showcase for cycling trails in New Zealand."

Eventually, it was hoped the network of cycle trails would be linked to travel from one end of the country to the other.

With the country out of recession faster than the Government had anticipated, there was renewed appetite to grow the tourism sector, particularly in the United States and China.



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