20 Mar 2015

Big economic recovery challenge for Vanuatu

2:00 pm on 20 March 2015

The Vanuatu government is to organise a forum for investors as the country faces a big economic recovery challenge in the wake of the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam.

A beach in Vanuatu.

A beach in Vanuatu. Photo: RNZI

The prime minister's spokesperson, Kiery Manasseh, says the government is very concerned about the impact the storm has had on the country's economy.

"Because it's all very well to organise relief supplies for now for immediate needs but the economy's so important, the government's thinking of that and wants to help the private sector get back on their feet and be able to support the economy."

Meanwhile, a disaster economics expert says the next few years will be difficult for Vanuatu's economy with many of its major exports impacted by Cyclone Pam.

Much of Vanuatu's growth over the last decade has come from tourism and agriculture with each making up around 25 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

The Chair in the Economics of Disasters at Victoria University, Ilan Noy says damage to these industries will hit the country hard.

"With the decline in tourism, damage to the main cash export crop, and the need to do emergency management in the next few months, it's going to be a difficult time for Vanuatu."

Mr Noy says the tourism industry could take years to get back on its feet as infrustructure is repaired and tourists forget about the risk of future cyclones.