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It will take about three years for the Cook Islands economy to return to pre-Covid-19 levels, government economists predict.
They estimate the economy has contracted by nine per cent from an average growth of 5.8 per cent annually due to the spread of Covid-19 in the third quarter of the 2019/20 financial year which led to the crippling of the tourism industry.
This has reduced the gross domestic product of the country to $483.3 million (US$310.1 million) from the projected $531.2 million (US$340.8 million).
The economy is expected to contract further by 5.3 per cent in the coming financial year before returning to pre-pandemic level by 2023, the economists say.
Fletcher Melvin, the chair of Private Sector Force, agrees the country could be returning to pre-Covid-19 level close to 2023.
He said these were all reasonable assumptions based on the “growth assumptions of tourism arrivals and the boarder opening up later this year and the reserves in place”.
However Melvin warns the danger is the delay in the border opening and the tourists having the discretionary funds available for holidays due to the New Zealand economy and the global provider.
Cook Islands has been seeking a travel bubble with New Zealand soon to help recover the local economy. But new Covid-19 cases in New Zealand due to quarantine botch-ups there has put any immediate travel bubble in limbo.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
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