The Cook Islands government has drawn down on a $US10.3 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help finance its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The second phase of the contingent disaster financing (CDF) programme for the Cook Islands was approved in December 2019 to help manage the country’s fiscal risk from disasters triggered by natural hazards.

In April, the ADB’s board extended the scope of CDF programmes to include health-related emergencies, allowing for the release of funds in response to COVID-19.

“The Cook Islands is among tourism-dependent South Pacific economies that are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez said

“The loan for the Cook Islands will help the economy in the face of the collapse in tourism and respond to emerging challenges.”

The Cook Islands’ Ministry of Finance estimates tourism normally makes up 65 percent of the country’s economic activity.

The Cooks’ government and business leaders want a travel bubble with New Zealand to resuscitate tourism.

ACT backs bubble

The travel bubble idea has also been backed by the leader of New Zealand’s ACT political party, David Seymour.

Mr Seymour said there was no reason for the delay as the Cook Islands was Covid-free and part of New Zealand’s realm.

“It’s critical to the long term relationship between the countries that New Zealand tourist dollars are available tothe Cook Islands when they are most needed, and that’s right now.”

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