Visiting friends and relatives and government officials are injecting much-needed cash into Aitutaki, says a hotel operator on the island.
Nick Henry, general manager of Tamanu Beach Resort, says some of their tourism operators are still able to operate due to the incoming domestic traffic from Rarotonga.
The financial injections to their small community are being felt at all levels, he said.
The local lagoon cruise and Wet and Wild Aitutaki charter was booked for the day and Rinos Rentals cars were hired daily by visiting government officials, completing projects before the end of the 2019/20 financial year.
“The few local visitors we receive on the island make the genuine effort to ‘spread the love’, dining out at the different cafes and restaurants around Aitutaki,” Henry said.
“It is far from the peak tourism traffic we would be heading into right now. In normal times the kite surfing season would be flying along but today, for the most part these boats are on dry dock.”
Most of the tourism operators including accommodators are providing discounted rates or local rates to entice visitors mainly from Rarotonga.
Tamanu Beach Resort has reduced the price of their beachfront with lagoon view villas to $200 per night for two people ($50 per extra person). The normal rate is $750 per night.
Henry said the bungalow could sleep up to five people.
“At Tamanu Beach Resort life is far from normal … preparing only one or two rooms a day is the new normal with six or more bungalows at heavily discounted rates over the weekend being an exception. But even for this we are truly thankful.”
Henry also thanked government for providing wage subsidy which has allowed the resort to retain its staff.
He adds they are looking forward “to our pay rise” next month. The wage subsidy will increase from $266 to $320 per employee from July and will run until September.
“The wage subsidy is a lifesaver for our business and many others. The effort our government and the Ministry of Finance team have made for us in Aitutaki is simply outstanding. None of us have been here (a global pandemic) before, this is new and unchartered waters.
“In my most simplified view we are receiving, each month, ‘free money’ from our government and in return I believe all of our businesses are obliged to try and try and try to make, no matter how small, some business to help drive our economy. If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place.”