Jumped ship: New Wayfare chief executive, former Tourism NZ boss Stephen England Hall, on his firm's famous Earnslaw steamship


Tourism New Zealand’s former boss, who this week took the helm of Queenstown’s largest tourism company, appears undaunted by his sector’s struggles.

Stephen England-Hall’s moved to the resort to run Wayfare Group — whose stable includes Queenstown’s Earnslaw steamer, Cardrona skifield and Milford boats and buses — just as local tourism hits dire straits due to NZ’s borders remaining closed.

‘‘I think it makes the challenge more interesting and more exciting, I mean, the reality is you don’t want to get in at 40,000 feet, you want to get in when there’s work to do.

“As I’ve said many times, I think tourism is one of the industries that’s critical to NZ’s economy, its employment, its recovery.

‘‘I think organisations like Wayfare and their businesses, like Cardrona and Real Journeys, are exemplary at what they do.

“And I think now’s a great time to be part of helping to build economic resilience back into NZ, and create jobs and a great future.’’

England-Hall believes he’ll fit in well with a company which has strongly emphasised its conservation values since its founding days.

‘‘I think tourism needs to be an enriching industry.

‘‘I mean, it has to give back more than it consumes, and that has to include not just capital and customer experience and time, but actually environment and community and other things, too.

‘‘So I think, from an industry perspective, tourism is one of those few and unique industries where you can truly do those things.’’

Jumping ship from a Crown entity to a frontline position in private enterprise doesn’t phase him.

‘‘My whole career’s been in private industry with the exception of four years at Tourism NZ.’’

He’s arrived in town with his wife and two school-aged children.

‘‘We’re just getting ourselves set up and established, and we’ll figure out where we’re going to live permanently over the next few months.’’

He says the area’s recreational opportunities will play a massive role in their lives here, be it mountain biking, carting, skiing, snowboarding, or hiking.