Coronavirus is unlikely to affect the tourism industry in the Cook Islands and the rest of the Pacific, says a leading New Zealand bank.
Analysts at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) said coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak had caused enormous disruption to people’s lives and impeded international travel.
While the coronavirus is expected to affect the economic activity of many countries, they said the Pacific Island economies, including the Cook Islands, would be “relatively insulated”.
Halatoa Fua, the chief executive of Cook Islands Tourism, said their key focus was to prevent the virus from entering the country.
“The coronavirus has shown impact on tourism industries in affected countries like China, hence it is important for any country to take the precautionary steps and lessen impact on the economic and social sectors,” Fua said.
“Tourism attends the Cook Islands National Health Emergency Taskforce meetings that is held 3-4 times a week (started last Monday). The key focus of the meetings is for stakeholders to communicate and manage the spread of coronavirus, putting measures in place to protect the Cook Islands.”
ANZ analysts say the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Pacific are increasing but still small.
around 15,000 Chinese visitors will be unable to make it to the region in the short term, due to the outbreak, they added. This may be offset by higher arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
In the Cook Islands, China is the highest growing market for visitor arrivals. In 2019, 678 Chinese tourists visited the country.
ANZ analysts said: “With the diligent monitoring and preparedness all governments are practicing, we believe the number of inbound visitors to the Pacific is likely to hold up, this year, especially as the outbreak has occurred during the Pacific’s off-peak tourism season.
This means foreign reserves, GDP, employment and government revenue in tourism-dependent economies, such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa and Cook Islands, are likely to remain intact.”
Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration announced that entry will be refused to any traveller who have departed China or transited through China in the last 14 days prior to traveling to the Cook Islands.
This has also extended to Cook Islanders, permanent residents and permit holders – all are required to self-quarantine in a country outside of the Cook Islands- before you can be granted entry.
The Ministry of Health has opened a coughs and colds flu clinic in Arorangi and is open from Monday to Friday between 8am-2pm.
The ministry states: “If you have coughs, colds, runny nose, headache, fevers and difficulty breathing and would like to see a doctor or nurse, please call ahead prior to visiting the ‘coughs and colds’ Flu clinic to arrange an appointment. This will assist in minimising the spread of germs while patients are in the waiting room. To book an appointment call phone number: 29667.”
The Wuhan coronavirus has killed 910 people globally, the vast majority in mainland China, and infected more than 40,000 people.