Jacinda Ardern flags four-day work week as a way to rebuild New Zealand's tourism industry

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently flagged the idea of a four-day working week. Source: AAP

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked whether a four-day week and greater workplace flexibility could provide a much-needed boost to the country's tourism industry.
Updated 20/05/2020
By Maani Truu
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has flagged the idea of a four-day work week as one way to help the country's tourism industry rebuild after the coronavirus.

Addressing the country in an informal Facebook Live video, Ms Ardern said a number of ideas were being "bounced around" within the government to encourage New Zealanders to travel domestically while international border restrictions remain in place.

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Among ideas suggested, she said, was a four-day work week and greater flexibility around leave.

"I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day week. Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees," she said.

"There are lots of things we've learnt about COVID and just that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that.

"I'd really encourage people to think about that if they are an employer in a position to do so, to think about whether that is something that would work in their workplace - because it would certainly help tourism all around the country."

Ms Ardern made the casual remarks from the back of a moving van as she drove to catch a flight in Rotorua, one of New Zealand's tourist hot spots. She said 60 per cent of the country's tourism industry is supported by domestic travel.

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She also used the live video to reiterate the ongoing discussions around the possibility of a "trans-Tasman bubble" which would allow international travel between Australia and New Zealand before other countries. No timeline for the plan has so far been announced by either government. 

"New Zealand has had a thriving tourism industry before, and we will again," she said. "Think about exploring your backyard."

The New Zealand government further lifted their strict COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday last week, allowing domestic travel to resume.

Under "Alert Level 2", restaurants and cafes are now allowed to serve sit-down customers, with up to 10 people allowed at a table. Museums, cinemas, markets and retail stores have also been given the green light to reopen.

As of Wednesday, only 35 active COVID-19 cases remained in the country, which reported just over 1,500 total infections and 21 deaths. 

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