Niue committed to remaining Covid-free

(Picture caption: Esther Pavihi says Niue is committed to keeping Covid-19 out of the country.)

It boasts an abundance of marine life in its blue waters; and in March 2020, Niue became the world’s first dark sky country – where the island maintains standards of light development and keeps light pollution limited.

This idyllic tropical island relies on its natural assets for tourism – one of three priority economic sectors (fisheries and agriculture are the other two).

Like most Pacific nations, Niue has been hit hard by tourism coming to an abrupt stop due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Experiencing the pandemic has been an interesting time for Esther Pavihi, who was appointed the Acting Business Development Manager/Chief Executive Officer of the Niue Chamber of Commerce in November last year.

She is also a Director on the Chamber Board and works as a Journalist and News Presenter for the national broadcaster BCN.

“It was never envisaged I would still be in this role, and Covid- 19 wasn’t even in the news in November last year.

“Unusual times, but it is hardly unusual for us here in Niue to carry multiple roles,” Esther says.

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) has recently published results from its fourth Pacific Business Monitor and the impacts of Covid-19, and the survey focuses on Niue.

In the survey, it reports Covid-19 continues to have a negative impact on businesses as borders remain closed, and in Niue, 83 percent of businesses – many of which rely on tourists – report it having a slightly negative or very negative impact on operations. 

Esther says with the travel restrictions and borders closed to tourists the local tourism industry has come to a standstill.

“Around 60 percent of our businesses are in the tourism sector and the rest provide the support services with retailers and other service providers, so the flow on effect is felt across all sectors.”

The survey also reports 88 percent of businesses have had a decline in revenue – 69 percent say this decline is significant.

Although far from ideal, Esther says things could be much worse in Niue, but fortunately, the people of Niue have the support of the Niue Government’s wage subsidies package.

“This provides much needed financial support for the businesses.

“The money from the wage subsidies is generating within the economy helping other businesses.”

Overall, the perception is Covid-19 has had a negative impact on business and revenue throughout the Pacific, and in Niue 92 percent feel this way.

Esther adds there is there is the fear things will get worse, and the uncertainty of how long this pandemic is going to last is affecting the future of businesses.

“It is very unusual for businesses not being able to plan future projections and business opportunities – that’s an added worry to the business owners.”

Niue’s Chamber of Commerce is doing its best to keep businesses informed of opportunities and Esther says its doors are always open to help those in need.

“We are in regular contact with the Government to ensure the continuation of the wage subsidies until things return to normal or whatever the new normal looks like.”

Despite Covid-19 having a negative impact on the country’s economy, 75 percent of Niue businesses remain confident they will survive the crisis.

Right now, business’ main concerns are making sure their businesses are still open, that their staff are still employed, and they can cover their monthly overheads, Esther says.

“Even though the tourists are not on the island, and the hotel rooms are empty people are still earning money and keeping their families fed and paying their bills.

As a community I believe we have demonstrated to each other more than to anyone else our commitment to keeping our island Covid-free.

“We have recovered from natural disasters such as cyclones and we will recover from this pandemic.”

Full survey reports are available HERE.

Contact Trade Development Officer at PTI NZ Riley Birtwistle Riley.B@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz to register for the survey.

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