- New Zealand is one of the few countries to have tackled the COVID-19 pandemic successfully.
- The government is focused on reviving the economy and creation of jobs.
- PM Jacinda Ardern promotes four-day workweek to enhance domestic travel.
- NZ government pushes for domestic travel through campaigns to support the tourism industry, one of the biggest export industries in the country.
New Zealand is among the few nations who could handle the pandemic well and is successful in managing the spread of the deadly virus. Now, with less number of cases and more ease in restrictions related to COVID-19, the government is more focused on recovering the economy, creating jobs and helping those who lost their jobs during the crisis.
The NZ Budget 2020 also focused on job creation for kiwis. Adding to the government's effort to revive the economy, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has floated the idea of a four-day workweek. The move is to encourage the domestic travel sector in the country. New Zealand has a robust local tourism sector.
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After having a meeting with tourism operators in the North Island-city of Rotorua and local officials, Prime Minister has raised the idea of more flexibility around leave in the workplace and a shortened workweek.
Ms Jacinda Ardern, during a Facebook Live video, asked for ideas to support the kiwis to make the most of travelling within the country. She said she heard about New Zealanders speaking that if they could have more flexibility with the leave and travel policies, they could have enjoyed more of the domestic travel. Also, she got multiple suggestions about a four-day week work schedule.
While encouraging businesses to think of the option if it is viable to them, she also maintained that the decision would be an individual choice between the employee and employer. Still, the idea will help the domestic tourism sector in the country. Ms Jacinda Ardern also talked about the benefits of working from home. She cited that the crisis has shown that work from home can drive up productivity.
Tourism: NZ's prominent export industry
The tourism sector is the most significant contributor to foreign exchange earnings and offers employment to one in eight kiwis. As per the government data for the year ended March 2019, the sector employed 229,566 people directly, which is 8.4 per cent of the total employed people in the country.
The sector contributed 21 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and NZ$16.2 billion (5.8 per cent of GDP) during the period.
Global tourism sector came to a halt during the pandemic and became one of the worst-hit sectors. To support the industry, NZ government announced a bailout package of NZ$400 million.
GOOD READ: 5 Things That May Revive NZ Tourism Sector
After getting no new cases in three days, the government further eased the restrictions for businesses and allowed them to reopen. The country is also getting worldwide praise for a swift response to the pandemic. NZ Prime Minister had imposed aggressive lockdown measures during the onset and facilitated contract tracing and widespread testing.
A tourism campaign to encourage domestic travel
After successfully managing the pandemic by strict lockdown and travel ban across the country, now NZ is all set to revive the domestic travel. Apart from PM suggesting short work week, Tourism NZ has released a video to promote NZ tourism to kiwis. The video features some famous faces including broadcasters and sports stars and the ordinary kiwis promoting travel within the country.
Right now, when foreign tourists can't come to the country, the government agency has started the campaign to attract domestic travellers.
The video is titled "Do Something New New Zealand", and it encourages kiwis to plan a holiday with their families. Right now, the NZ is at alert level 2 restrictions where domestic travel is allowed. Government is encouraging domestic leisure travel to help the pandemic-stricken tourism sector.
NZ tourism and hospitality seeks more support from the government
After the budget 2020 announced on May 14, the NZ tourism and hospitality sector is asking for more financial support from the NZ government.
Hospitality New Zealand, NZ's commercial accommodation and F&B association, has expressed fears that the government's NZ$400 million tourism recovery package will not be enough, and the industry needs more concrete and extensive support.
Julie White, the CEO, Hospitality New Zealand, said, however, some operating cost will be reduced due to the Wage Subsidy Scheme. Still, if the government will not provide any concrete rental financial or support with targeted working capital, the hospitality business will continue to struggle with operating costs.
Air New Zealand provides additional flights on Queen's Birthday
Anyone who wants to travel to Queenstown will now get more options. The airline Air New Zealand (NZX:AIR) is providing additional flights to Queenstown to promote tourism in the post-pandemic era.
Air New Zealand to restart more flights after the restrictions ease but it is going to be more expensive. The airlines will have to follow now the social distancing restrictions which means the airlines can only sell 50 per cent of seats, and it also means that Air New Zealand will charge to cover the operating costs out of these 50 per cent seats. The airline won't be able to offer cheap flight rates. Furthermore, Air New Zealand will boost the frequency of flights between Wellington and Queenstown and Auckland and Queenstown.
COVID-19 pandemic has massively hit the global tourism and aviation sectors. If we compare with other countries, NZ is in a much better situation.
With the government encouraging the tourism industry, and more domestic flights are getting started, the revival of the sector has already begun. However, it is to be seen if the government helps the industry with additional financial support or not.