17 Mar 2020

Cooks prepared for economic downturn over coronavirus - deputy PM

3:03 pm on 17 March 2020

The Cook Islands is well-positioned to withstand the coming economic downturn imposed by the coronavirus, says the deputy prime minister.

Mark Brown said previous years of economic growth had positioned the country well to support business.

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown

Cook Islands finance minister Mark Brown Photo: Cook Islands News

On Monday, the government announced that from midnight tonight, flights from the US, Australia and French Polynesia would be suspended.

Foreign cruise ships and recreational vessels are also banned.

All visitors must now transit through New Zealand where 14 days quarantine is required.

Mr Brown said the economic downturn had been prepared for.

"We established our economic stabilisation fund for precisely events like this. Over the years of prosperity we have put aside $56 million to assist our country through this period.

"Our emergency contingent line of credit with the Asian Development Bank of $10 million is waiting, ready to help us through this period."

Mr Brown said the country was also well-positioned to borrow further from the Bank.

Fiji sees drop in tourism

Fiji's hotel industry said it had seen a 40 percent drop in bookings, with that number increasing by the day.

The president of the Hotel and Tourism Association, Fantasha Lockington, told the FBC smaller operations had been hardest-hit.

She said the decline in bookings was increasing daily and support was likely to be needed.

Sixty-two percent of visitors to Fiji come from Australia and New Zealand.

USP cancels graduation

The University of the South Pacific has cancelled its graduation ceremony this week due to the concerns over coronavirus.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Jito Vanualailai told FBC News the decision was taken for the safety of everyone involved.

He said some mid-semester exams had also been cancelled.

Graduates could collect their certificates and transcripts from the Vodafone Arena on Thursday and Friday.

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