'Problems' with shift to summer holidays in February

Changing New Zealand's summer holidays to February when the weather is more settled would cause major problems for businesses, a business leader says.

The proposed shift has been discussed since Peter Dunne expressed his support to the Sunday Star Times in the weekend.

"What I'd envisage is you'd have would be a shorter Christmas period ... and then we would resume business as usual until the end of January and the holiday month would become February," he said.

Dunne said he has not yet mounted a campaign to make the change, but he thinks it is a good idea.

"The weather is better and more settled in February/March. I do think it's something we should think seriously about and it's something I think the public would get used to fairly quickly," he said.

"There are some issues around the questions of how the school terms might fit but they could be adjusted."

Dunne said he also understood the change could impact the business cycle but he didn't think any of the issue were "insurmountable".

"That's transition. These are things that we could get over if we decided to make a change."

Since speaking out, Dunne said he had received only positive feedback.

"The comments that I have seen on Twitter, Facebook and just in general emails ... I haven't had one negative one yet."

However, Business New Zealand CEO Phil O'Reilly says while he likes the idea of taking holiday at the hottest time of the year, the practicality was a "problem".

"For me, as a human being, it's a nice idea.

"As a personal thought, I suspect most New Zealanders would say 'Yeah, I'd like to be taking February off, because the weather's better."'

But as a business representative, the problems associated would be two-fold, he said.

The first would be the fact that nowhere else takes their holidays in February.

"We'd be on holiday and all of our customers would be ringing us up saying 'where are you?"'

We'd be out of step with what's happening with our trading partners.

Secondly, the "sunk costs" of the change - such as changing the school year - would be big.

"It's big, I don't know how you'd define it but it's multi-billions. Big numbers.

"Those two things alone would make you say 'It's probably too hard'."

O'Reilly also noted that, as we move away from the traditional factory-based model towards a more service and knowledge-based economy, people have more choice about when they want to take their holidays anyway.

"The [thing] that is insurmountable is that nobody else in the world is on holiday in February.

"We don't get to tell the world what to do."

A WeatherWatch poll last year asked readers to choose when their preference for holidays would be.

Twenty-eight per cent of respondents wanted to leave the holidays as they were, 17 per cent wanted to take their holiday in January and 55 per cent said they wanted to take the time off in February.

"It does make sense if you think about it. December is very much like spring, a lot of meteorologists believe that summer doesn't officially start until the longest day of the year just before Christmas," head analyst Philip Duncan said.

"We're almost at the wrong end of the season."

- Cassandra Mason of Herald Online

Good idea

Its a great idea. Business would still have all the cashflow of Christmas and the stat days. Then they would have another cycle as everyone went away later, feeling better for having financially recovered from Christmas shopping a bit before the hols.


The split is internal to a country

When I lived in the UK we had the Leicester fortnight followed by the Nottingham fortnight and so on.  And, the English are not all June, most of the midlands was August.

No reason not to split

I think the reason why Christmas and New Year are traditionally linked to the summer vacation season in NZ is for workers to have a longer continuous holiday than their annual leave entitlement normally would allow. Take 4 weeks leave and have a 5 week holiday. That makes sense. The problem is that those 5 weeks aren't of much use if you can't trust the weather. There is no practical reason why we couldn't take a week at Christmas and then formal summer holidays later on, treating the Christmas break as we do Easter. It's just a question of habit and convenience. The Northern Hemisphere manages it just fine.

Splitting up the holiday period around the country is a nice idea, but NZ is so small that it would throw out family dynamics. Why would a family in Wellington travel to visit their family in Dunedin if that Dunedin family were busy working or were in school? In Europe it works because most families all live in the same country. The Scandinavians start their holidays in early June, the Germans in late June, French in early July, and the English in late July, spreading the tourist load around the continent.

Chaos theory

Hospitals can operate in one province but not another and the Uni 3rd semester can run until mid December. Great for motor camps and we wont get 'screwed' again.

Best thing to do

In the northern hemisphere nobody in their right minds would start their holiday in June - most take holidays in August.  We get screwed here because of Christmas and New Year.

It would be the same as the northern hemisphere, you have Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day off and that is that.

New Zealand could even do what they do in the UK - each part of the  country have a different fortnight to share the load around the holiday locations so that the holiday providers have a more steady stream of income.

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