It’s a sign of the times, Guv’nor

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Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard caught the tourism downturn first-hand last week.

Walking the Milford Track in a party of 15, “there was only one American and that’s very unusual”, Bollard told Mountain Scene.

Americans usually comprise 20-25 per cent of clients on the world-famous guided walk.

Bollard, who’s due to slash the Official Cash Rate again today, says his bank doesn’t specifically report on tourism.

“We do know from our talks around the place that tourism has been quite hard-hit, especially [arrivals] from countries that have already felt recession.”

Yet he sees a beacon of hope in exchange rate movements favouring international visitors. “Also, if the recession keeps New Zealanders at home, that might help Queenstown a bit.”

Bollard was asked how his stress levels and sleep patterns are coping with the financial fallout.

“Fine – I’ve got other people who are meant to stay awake at night, worrying for me – I employ them.

“So I’m sleeping all right but I have appreciated getting away from it for a little while.”

When he takes a break, Bollard says he signs a letter delegating responsibility to his deputy governor.

He walked the Milford Track with wife and venture capitalist Jenny Morel – so how was it?

“We had a great time. I didn’t think it was easy – it was quite a challenge and I’ve got a strapped-up foot as a result.”