Kennedys jet off

Leaving town: Mandy and David Kennedy GRAPHIC: ODT

Leading Queenstown tourism personality David Kennedy and his family are leaving town.

The former Destination Queenstown boss is Ngai Tahu Tourism’s southern regional head honcho and popular Scene columnist.

He’s taking a top job at Lincoln University, near Christchurch, starting late May.

He’ll be CEO of Lincoln Hospitality Ltd, which runs the university’s student accommodation, hospitality services, recreation and childcare services, and has more than 100 staff.

Kennedy’s been regional boss of Ngai Tahu Tourism, which operates attractions like Shotover Jet, Dart River Jet and Hollyford Track Guided Walk, for almost eight-and-a-half years.

His responsibilities have changed in recent times, but he says that’s not why he’s resigned.

“It was more to work for such an iconic institution,” he says,

The fact he and his wife Mandy have family in Christchurch was also a consideration.

“It was obviously a big decision to leave the town we’ve been committed to, but the job was too good to turn down.”

After two years in Queenstown in the early ’90s, Mandy came back in 2005, initially as marketing boss for the new Sofitel hotel.

She’s been Queenstown Trails Trust’s boss for the past three years. The job’s been “outstanding – I’ve had a ball here”, she says.

Wellington-raised David originally came to town to run DQ in 1998, though he’d had two stints directing Winter Festivals in the early ’90s.

During almost 10 years running the resort’s tourism promotion body, he says “there was never a dull moment – whether it was [US] President Clinton’s visit or floods or Winter Festivals, you name it”.

At Ngai Tahu Tourism, high-lights were hosting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on Shotover Jet, and celebrating the jetboat company’s 50th anniversary.

Other local high points, of course, were meeting and marrying Mandy and raising their 10-year-old Jack.