A tourism heavyweight is considering a shot at the Queenstown mayoralty.
Former Shotover Jet owner and ex-Christchurch International Airport boss Jim Boult says he’ll make up his mind early in the New Year.
Announcing his interest now, without committing, might be seen as a chance for Boult and his backers to weigh public support.
News that Boult may bid to take over from Vanessa van Uden, who stands down next October, comes as a string of top managers leave the council, capped off by the announcement this week controversial boss Adam Feeley is leaving.
Boult, 64, doesn’t want to comment on the current council, adding: “My driver for being interested is what happens in the future.”
“I have lived in the district for coming on 34 years.
“I still love the place and I’ve put a lot into the town over the years and that has led me to consider [the mayoralty].
“I think I have something to deliver that would have benefit for the district going forward.”
Boult says he’s weighing up the mayoralty because a number of people have asked him to stand.
They include Sir Eion Edgar.
Asked if he wants like-minded people to stand for council, Boult says: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to seek allies but I would hope that we have appropriate people who are interested in being councillors.
“It’s a bridge we haven’t reached yet, but the district has enormous growth coming before it and needs to be prepared for that.”
If Boult joins the mayoral race, his opponents, at this stage, will be deputy mayor Lyal Cocks, of Wanaka, and Kinloch’s Al Angus, who also stood last time.
Though he’s not been on council, Boult’s profile is likely to make him a frontrunner.
Certainly his experience of Queenstown’s primary industry, tourism, can’t be rivalled.
He not only owned and ran tourism icon Shotover Jet for 15 years, before selling to current owner Ngai Tahu Tourism in 2001, but also served as a director and deputy chairman of Tourism New Zealand.
Nowadays he chairs the government’s Tourism Growth Partnership fund.
Last New Year he was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to tourism and the community, and this year joined the board of local tourism giant Real Journeys.
Last year he also received a lifetime achievement award from the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.
At the presentation, chairman Charlie Phillips commended him for courageous and sometimes controversial calls.
“Blokes like you make things happen.
“At the end of the day, champions do just whatever it takes to get a result.”
Aside from his business career, including developing property, Boult’s made a substantial contribution to the Queenstown community.
He’s also been a steering group member of Queenstown’s Shaping Our Future organisation.
In a Mountain Scene interview last year, he said there was a “screaming case” for a local convention centre and the town’s transport issues were becoming “a major”.