ZB

PM Jacinda Ardern to New York today after Covid delays

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 May 2022, 11:35am

PM Jacinda Ardern to New York today after Covid delays

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 May 2022, 11:35am

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives in New York tonight (NZ time) ahead of a hectic one-day sprint through the city to try to woo Americans to visit New Zealand and drum up business.

It is yet to be confirmed whether Ardern has secured a White House meeting with US President Joe Biden at the end of her trip, but the start of the trip is all about business rather than politics.

Her agenda in New York will end with the guest slot on Stephen Colbert's The Late Show and includes meetings with big New York business names and the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

The Late Show will screen at about lunch time on Wednesday (NZ Time). It will be her fourth appearance on the show, one of which was in New Zealand. Colbert is a fan of New Zealand, and visited in 2019 to film a series for his show. Ardern picked him up from the airport for that - but the borders closed a few months after that show aired.

PM Jacinda Ardern drives Stephen Colbert home from the airport in 2019. Photo / supplied

PM Jacinda Ardern drives Stephen Colbert home from the airport in 2019. Photo / supplied

Ardern said she would be "shameless" in promoting the country as a holiday spot, noting there was a lot of competition for tourists after Covid-19.

Ardern said the tourism and business elements of the trip were just as critical as the political as she embarks on what she calls her "re-opening" tours.

"I'll be taking a simple message: that we are open for business and, of course, that we're open for recreation, especially as US visitors will begin to make their plans now to arrive in time for our summer."

She said other countries were also trying to get into the US market - and take US tourists - so it was important to do what she could to give New Zealand any advantage.

"I want to make sure US businesses, tourists, and skilled workers have New Zealand at the forefront of their minds."

Her own travel had to be delayed by two days because of her Covid-19, but Ardern left New Zealand late on Monday night to catch up with the rest of her delegation, who are travelling on the Royal NZ Air Force Boeing around the country.

Her first events start just after midnight on Wednesday (NZ Time).

She will also have an event with the US Chamber of Commerce That event will include the likes of BlackRock chairman Larry Fink and Myron Brilliant - the executive vice-president of the US Chamber of Commerce.

On the more political front, there will be a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at which Ukraine and climate change will feature.

She will also meet with editors of major travel publications, including Conde Nast, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine and NBC News. Air NZ chief executive Greg Foran is set to accompany her.

Ardern arrives back in a New York which has been battered by Covid-19, and is currently facing its fifth surge in case numbers.

That prompted health officials last week to urge New Yorkers to take precautions such as more diligent mask use.

Ardern's own recent recovery from Covid-19 has disrupted the start of her trip - including throwing a White House visit into uncertainty.

However, Ardern said before leaving that she had not considered cutting the programme back further than was necessary.

"It is part of my job to reach into the world, to support our exporters and to support our tourism industry."

Ardern will wind up her day in New York at about lunchtime Wednesday - she will then travel to Washington DC to meet with senior members of Congress before flying on to Boston to deliver her address to the Harvard University Commencement Ceremony.

That will take place in the early hours of Friday morning, NZ time.

Ardern will also travel to Seattle and San Francisco where her visits will focus on technology.

Her meetings there include the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, as well as executives from Microsoft, Amazon and Twitter.