Kiwis join the ranks of the world’s holiday deprived nations

On April 14, 2009 at 02:00 PM

New Zealanders come second only to the workaholic Japanese in not taking all their annual leave

One third of workers have changed their holiday plans due to the GFC 

A global survey conducted by online travel company Expedia® shows New Zealand workers officially joining the ranks of the world’s most holiday deprived nations.

The annual global Expedia Vacation Deprivation® survey, conducted in 11 nations(and this year for the first time in New Zealand)by Expedia, the world’s leading online travel company, found that 45 per cent of New Zealanders leave at least some of their annual leave days untaken, second only to Japan, where 92 per cent of its employed people leave on average almost half of their annual leave days on the table.

On average, Kiwis received 21 annual leave days from their employers in the past year, but left three of those days untaken. When comparing the number of unused leave days to other countries, New Zealand workers are fifth in the world. That said, they still took more annual leave days than the US, Japan, Australia and Canada.

With the global recession continuing to plague the New Zealand economy, more than a third (35%) of Kiwis said the current global financial crisis (GFC) had caused them to change their travel plans in 2009, with 64 per cent of those saying they had decided not to take all their annual leave so they could save their money for difficult times. Encouragingly though, of the 64 per cent of Kiwis who said their holiday plans remain unaffected by the GFC, two-thirds felt taking holidays would not affect their job situation.

Generally speaking, when asked why they had not taken all their annual leave, just on half of New Zealanders said they wanted to carry over holidays to use in the following year, while a third said their work commitments were too great to take a break.

Kiwis’ holiday deprivation woes pale somewhat in comparison with their Japanese counterparts, who earn the unenviable distinction as the most holiday deprived on earth. Japanese workers said they took only eight of the 15 annual leave days allocated to them in the past year. And while Australians fared somewhat better than the holiday-starved Japanese and Americans, our trans-Tasman neighbours gained the reputation for being the third most holiday deprived nation in the world.

The world’s most holiday deprived nations:


Annual leave days taken

1. Japan


2. United States


3. Australia


4. Canada


5. New Zealand


The French continue to be the world’s most holiday-rich nation, receiving on average 38 days a year. They also take the most leave each year – 36 of those days – exactly double that of their more holiday-frugal Kiwi counterparts.

France’s European neighbours also fared well: those in Italy received 31 days (and used 25 days); Spain 30 days (using up 27 days) and Germany and Austria each received 27 days (using 25 and 23 days respectively). The English are also holiday lovers, receiving 26 days and with most working adults (79%) leaving none of their annual leave days unused.

Louise Crompton at said,“People from all around the world, particularly from Britain, famously move to New Zealand in search of a better and more relaxed lifestyle, but in fact our Vacation Deprivation survey shows that they are likely to have more time to spend with family and friends in their home country. In fact, we are more than twice as likely not to take all our allocated holidays than the British.”

“At Expedia we believe people should recognise that holidays are an important part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance rather than viewing them as a ‘luxury’,” Ms Crompton said.

She added, “There is evidence to support the importance of holidays for business productivity, suggesting that rested employees are likely to be more productive, have greater commitment to their company and have better morale.”

“As a result of the global financial crisis, there are some fantastic travel deals at the moment and with you can select all your flights, accommodation, car hire and activities within the convenience of one site,” Ms Crompton concluded.

For excellent travel deals and a great travel experience, visit

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