New Zealand's tourism industry could receive a boost if a suggested plan to give workers a four-day week and greater workplace flexibility gets the green light. The idea was revealed in a Facebook Live video by the country's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, as a way to help the industry recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rowing Boat at Port Fitzroy Wharf, Great Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. Image shot 03/2012. Exact date unknown.
Port Fitzroy Wharf on Great Barrier Island © John Kershaw/Alamy Stock Photo

Speaking during a post-Cabinet media conference, Ardern said the government is mulling over ideas to encourage New Zealanders to travel domestically while international border restrictions remain in place. She revealed that 60% of the country's tourism industry is supported by domestic travel, and another idea being considered is giving people additional holiday time.

Punakaiki blowholes & Pancake rocks at Paparoa National Park -
The government is mulling over ideas to encourage New Zealanders to travel domestically © Maria Swärd/Getty Images

Ardern said that the implementation of a four-day work week ultimately sits between employers and employees. "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," she said. "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."

A walker on the Paparoa Track in New Zealand
The Paparoa Track is expected to attract visitors to the west coast of New Zealand © Jason Blair

The New Zealand government has set aside $400m (€223.68m) to help support for the wider tourism sector to open up again. There are great forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and fiords that have made the country one of the best hiking destinations on the planet, and it's famous for its Great Walks, of which there are now ten. On that basis, if four-day weeks and great workplace flexibility become a reality, there will be plenty of places and activities for local people to enjoy.

Lockdowns are easing globally as the planet adjusts to a new normal. Find out how COVID-19 is changing travel.

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