New Zealand moots 4-day work week to encourage domestic tourism

New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has come up with a four-day work week plan to encourage domestic travel, in a bid to boost the tourism sector in the country.

Ardern raised the potential of a shortened work week and more flexibility around leave in the workplace after meeting with local officials and tourism operators in the North Island-city of Rotorua.

“How can we support New Zealanders to make the most of travelling around the country?” the prime minister asked in a live video. “Some have been saying, “Well, if they had a bit more flexibility in terms of their travel and their leaves they might be able to do that. I’ve heard lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day week.”

The decision on whether to institute a shorter work week is an individual one between employer and employee, according to Ardern. But she encouraged businesses to think about this option, “because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”

The prime minister also pointed to the benefits of working from home, which the coronavirus crisis has shown can drive up productivity.

Last week, the government a $245 million Tourism Recovery Fund as part of its broader budget to support the hard-hit industry.

New Zealand’s tourism sector contributed more than NZ$16 billion ($9.8 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product for the year ending in March 2019. That’s 5.8% of the total GDP.

New Zealand’s tourism industry employs nearly 230,000 employees.