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Four weeks leave helps tourism businesses

11 July 2003

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Four weeks leave helps tourism businesses

Tourism businesses will benefit overall from a new law that creates a minimum of four weeks annual leave for all workers, Progressive MP Matt Robson says. His Bill is before a parliamentary select committee for hearings.

A Marlborough hotel operator claimed yesterday that, in Marlborough, hotels and restaurants would have to close because of a separate proposal to require time-and-a-half payments for all staff working on public holidays. This despite growth of around 4 per cent in the region and record low unemployment of 3.5 per cent.

But Matt Robson says any higher costs from better wages would be more than outweighed by his Bill creating more holidays, and looks to the French experience when the working work was reduced in 1998.

“The tourism industry will experience a domestic tourism surge if workers who currently have three weeks annual leave receive another week. When people have more time off they will take more holidays.

“More holidays will mean more business for the tourism industry and improved ability to pay higher wages. If the total level of holidays is set at the right level, it’s a win for everyone. I think four weeks minimum is closer to the right level than the current three weeks,” Matt Robson said.

France reduced the working week from 40 to 35 hours with no reduction in pay (equivalent to increasing paid holidays.) Economists suggested dire consequences. Yet in practice the results were positive:
- French travel agents reported sales up 11.7% in 2000
- Leisure and do-it-yourself (DIY) sectors are booming: boat sales are up 11.4%, DIY expanded 4.2% in 2000
- France has the fastest job growth in Europe, unemployment decreased by 3.8% in three years, and up to 87% of workers reporting better quality of life.

France's experience of reducing the working week increased spending on leisure, DIY, recreation, and tourism. And that increased spending would in turn provide more GST to keep the Crown accounts in good health.

ENDS

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