Media 11 Aug 2020
The highly sought-after Pacific bubble has prompted PCF Chair, Fiso John Fiso to remind governments, business leaders and the tourism sector that Pacific people should be at the heart of its decision making.
Last week the New Zealand Pacific Business Council hosted a webinar drawing in various speakers from New Zealand and the Pacific who all shared the view that the bubble will help in the recovery of the Pacific Island economies.
This webinar was held prior to New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern's update on the Cook Islands/New Zealand bubble on Monday 10 August.
PCF Chair Fiso John Fiso says that while it is important for businesses to reboot and to keep trade flowing, the voices of Pacific families must also be heard.
“I would say that at the centre of all the decisions, is the Pacific people, and the need to consider this from a humanitarian perspective. Our people’s livelihoods have been affected significantly and they need the support of their family members living in New Zealand,” Mr. Fiso said.
“Yes, I understand the businesses at both ends can benefit by opening up the bubble, but I would also argue that if we take a Pacific view to this or a people-centric solution, part of the solution could be with our families being able to travel and help our own families who are in the Pacific.”
Mr. Fiso recommended that New Zealand look at merging bubbles initially with realm countries such as the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue.
“We have a special relationship with these nations and our decision must reflect that,” Mr. Fiso said.
“We need to re-impress on the government that they are special for a reason and therefore certain decisions must flow from them. I look forward to PCF being part of the solution going forward.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated this afternoon that there will be an update in two weeks’ time on the timing of the travel bubble between the Cook Islands and New Zealand.
Prime Minister Ardern says New Zealand is still waiting on Niue to discuss their plans on its potential travel bubble but at the moment the plan is just for the Cook Islands.
"We have to base this on a public health decision which is what we're doing," said Prime Minister Ardern.
The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce president Fletcher Melvin said tourism accounted for 85 percent of the Cook Islands GDP last year, an industry that diminished as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: PCF Chair Fiso John Fiso explaining how Pacific families play a key role in the bubble