6 Feb 2014

Concerns about Tonga's tourism industry on Ha'apai

2:40 pm on 6 February 2014

A business owner on the Tongan island group of Ha'apai says he is concerned about the long-term impacts Cyclone Ian may have on the tourism industry and local businesses.

The category five storm that killed one person and injured 14 others damaged or destroyed 85 percent of buildings on Ha'apai almost one month ago.

Craig Airey, who owns Ha'apai Whale and Sale and Mariner's Cafe in Pangai, says his place of business was not damaged as he works from the first floor, but the hotel on the second floor lost its roof.

He says business owners are starting to get back on their feet, but it may be difficult to get tourists back to Ha'apai.

"I'm not sure what sort of opinion potential tourists have of the region. You know, they might think oh, there's no point in going there because there's nothing to go to sort of thing. It's a bit of a worry. Basically, the more people that visit the better because that will stimulate the local economy again."

Craig Airey says most businesses were not insured as getting insurance in Tonga can be a difficult process.