Mayor steps up as tourism company’s big cheese

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Mayor Jim is now also Chairman Jim.

Jim Boult, who was elected Queenstown’s mayor last October, has now also been confirmed as chairman of tourism giant Real Journeys, replacing Invercargill accountant Roger Wilson.

The locally-based company owns Queenstown’s Earnslaw steamer, Fiordland coach and boat excursions, Cardrona skifield and other interests.

Boult – whose extensive and award-winning tourism background includes owning Queenstown’s Shotover Jet and running Christchurch International Airport – was appointed to the Real Journeys board two years ago.

Chairing the board, he says, doesn’t raise any more potential conflicts of interest than being a director.

“I’m well used to dealing with any conflicts through other involvements I’ve had – that’s not new for me.”

Since taking on the mayoralty, Boult’s also retained his Hawkins Construction and Civil Aviation Authority directorships but no longer chairs the government’s Tourism Growth Partnership fund.

He’s delighted to be chairing Real Journeys, which he calls one of the most admired tourism companies in New Zealand. “And it has a lovely ownership model through the [founding] Hutchins family.”

Failed mayoral candidate Al Angus, however, says a mayor shouldn’t have directorships to avoid conflicts.

“I cannot see how you can be unbiased towards your own company.”

Angus, meanwhile, has asked the council how many am-5pm days Boult puts into his mayoral work.

The council says it doesn’t keep such records, but Boult says he spends a “bare minimum” of 40 hours a week on council work.

“I’m a mayor 24/7. If you want to judge the effectiveness of the time that I put in then I would suggest you look at the results.”

scoop@scene.co.nz