Jacinda Ardern fiercely defends Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis amid Covid-19 criticisms

Source: 1News

Under-fire Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis still has the support of his Prime Minister, despite being criticised for not doing enough to help the tourism sector badly impacted by Covid-19.

With international borders shut to tourists and national travel banned during earlier alert levels, the tourism sector has been placed under extreme pressure.

Some of the impacted businesses have criticised Mr Davis for not being open enough.

"I'm not going to question what Kelvin Davis does in the background, from what I understand he's a really hard worker, but we're not seeing that communication from him and the feeling in the tourism industry is one that doesn't have confidence," Rotorua MDA Experiences' Tukurua Mutu told TVNZ 1's Breakfast last week.

However Mr Davis maintains he's been engaging directly with those in the industry and today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern went in to bat for him.

"During lockdown, he was having regional hui via Zoom with the representatives from different regions," she told Breakfast host John Campbell this morning.

"He came to the Cabinet table and said the number one thing the tourism industry right now is asking for is that the Government extends the wage subsidy. That was the most important thing at that point in time. So that is what we did."

Mr Davis also represented the tourism industry by asking for ways to boost the domestic market, Ms Ardern says.

"And of course they've said can you start working on that trans-Tasman bubble, and that's what we're doing. 

"All of those have come through the minister and us talking directly to those regional operations."

Ms Ardern says there are some larger scale tourism outfits that New Zealand can't afford to lose.

"It does mean we need to sit down with those individual operators, be able to work through an arrangement that works for them and achieves what we want," she says. 

"That does require a bit of work but we are moving as rapidly as we can."

Tourism companies reliant on overseas visitors, particularly in Queenstown, are calling for a trans-Tasman bubble to allow flights between Australia and New Zealand.

However Ms Ardern says it's not just up to New Zealand.

"Australia has to be ready to press go [too]."

Rather than a consistent rule across the country, Australia has different Covid-19 restrictions across its various states.