14 Feb 2011

Tourism Minister worried about numbers of foreign workers in Cook Islands

5:54 am on 14 February 2011

The Cook Islands Tourism Minister, Teina Bishop, says the increasing number of foreign workers entering the country is causing some concern.

Late last year, the Prime Minister launched an initiative to create one thousand nine hundred new jobs in the next four years by developing tourism and the wider economy.

Our correspondent in Rarotonga, Florence Syme Buchanan reports

"Prime Minister Henry Puna's announcement sparked concerns that more imported workers would be needed because the Cook Islands does not have the local labour force to fill the new jobs."

The Tourism Minister says he's not familiar with the exact number of foreign workers in the Cook Islands, but he's aware it's increasing.

Mr Bishop says establishing benchmarks on the types and numbers of foreign workers would act as a protective measure for Cook Islanders who may be disadvantaged by their presence.

He says a review of immigration policies being advocated by the Prime Minister could be a way of addressing the issue of cheap labour.

In Rarotonga, this is Florence Syme Buchanan