Economy
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Monday, 23rd September  2019 8:24:am

economyThe Cook Islands economy, in general, has suffered drastically in the last ten years, many of its major industries have had a negative trend. The only bright economic activity is Tourism.

In recent years visitor numbers have been around 90 to 100,000 a year mainly from New Zealand and Australia and to a lesser extend from America and Europe. The figure of a 100'000 is about the maximum we can have in the Cook Islands and there are many reasons for this: poor or lack of marketing, lack of resources and funds injected into the tourist industry, more expensive than the likes of Fiji (although, it is cheaper than Hawaii and Tahiti). But considering natural resources, environment protection and water availability, the Cook Islands can only host 100,000 visitors per annum, anymore would be detrimental to the environment.
Offshore banking, marine resources and agriculture which were once amongst the largest industries, have all become stagnant or indeed declined which is particularly true with the agriculture sector.
The El Nino and La Nina have had devastating effects on Agriculture exports. The other problem is the lack of markets. The Cook Islands used to export a number of produces, mainly papaya/pawpaw to New Zealand; taro to Cook Islanders in New Zealand and Australia; nono (morinda citrifolia) to Tahiti and maire to Hawaii. There is a small pawpaw juice producer in Rarotonga and he tells me that there is just not enough fruit grown to make his project viable. To help his finances, he sells dutyfree children clothes at the weekly market. And this was confirmed by the Manager of one of the big Resorts in Rarotonga who said: "never did I think I would see the day when Pawpaw were in short supply over winter" the answer is quite simple there are not enough trees in the ground.
Fishery exports have picked up slightly, licence fees have been increased but the availability of deep sea fish like tuna, albacore, etc is becoming a problem Pacific wide.
In 1998, the Cook Islands made about $3M in declared black pearl sales. This figure is still extremely low when compared to black pearl sales in Tahiti. But there have been setbacks, especially with cyclone Martin affecting the island of Manihiki in November 1997. It is understood that black pearl sales have declined and it was only recently that over $1 million have been given to that industry to try and revitalise it. Penrhyn island is starting to generate sales, but won't be a significant competitor to Manihiki for a few years yet.

Aitutaki Lagoon