23 May 2020

Survey shows bleak outlook for Cooks businesses

10:05 am on 23 May 2020

More than 20 percent of businesses surveyed in the Cook Islands have indicated they may be forced to shut their doors.

A woman buying groceries in the Cook islands.

From small to large entities, many businesses in the Cook Islands are considering closure Photo: 123RF/Rafael Ben-Ari

With the Cooks almost wholly dependent on tourism the impact of the coronavirus lockdown has been severe.

The Private Sector Taskforce surveyed businesses and of 184 replies 41 said they were considering shutting down.

This follows a survey last month which noted businesses expecting a 90 percent fall in earnings.

The Taskforce said the latest findings reinforced the critical need for additional wage subsidies and business continuity funding from the government.

"This crisis has touched every business in some way, from tourism accommodators to growers, retailers and stall holders, who have reported cataclysmic drops in income since the borders closed," taskforce chair, Fletcher Melvin said.

"The big issue businesses are grappling with is that they continue to burn through cash even in hibernation.

"They still have to pay for electricity, superannuation contributions, insurance, rent, and telecommunications among other things."

Cook Islands tourism

Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Walter Zweifel

Mr Melvin also issued an appeal to New Zealand for the Cooks to be included in any wider travel "bubble" that may be formed with Australia.

Visitors from Australia and New Zealand account for a major part of the Cook Islands tourism sector's market.