63% of businesses support the opening of borders but most want to start with VFR first

Sixty-three percent of local businesses support the opening of borders according to a quick survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce. 

The CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Catherine Papani told BCN news that they conducted a quickfire survey with sixty-six businesses across all sectors. More than 50 percent of businesses responded with a mixture of views. 

Some of the respondents want only VFR or visiting friends and relatives’ tourists only and not to open to bona fide tourists just yet. 

“Niue tourists only,” said one respondent while another said “Family and friends first”

Business owners who responded are receptive to the opening of borders but they need assurances that the government agencies and the health department have the capacity to respond. 

One respondent said, “Yes we need relatives and tourists to come to Niue to make a difference in our economy, but we also need our government agencies to do their job and ensure that our businesses are safe”.

Another said “Subject to more information from health sector on the full capacity of our hospital and staff to serve the people”

64 percent said that if the borders open in April they will welcome and serve all visitors to their business while 36 percent said no to serving new visitors and will only serve locals. 

One respondent said “My business includes older clients (and vulnerable family members) and keeping them safe as possible. I don’t think I would accept tourists as clients just yet”

Another said “If there is a system like in New Zealand where services can still be offered and businesses open but measures in place to ensure everyone is safe ie. Face masks, gloves, sanitizers, social distancing, and the like. The RockSafe does not work so we have not been using it since towards the end of last year. As an alternative, we have a log where we keep a list of customers that comes into the shop each day.”

Seventy-seven percent of businesses who responded to the Chamber of Commerce survey said that they don’t yet have a Covid 19 Safe plan. 

Some of the businesses are working on their Covid Safety plans while the majority want assistance from the Chamber of Commerce to get their plans in place.

Catherine Papani said that these survey results were shared with senior government officials last week so that they are aware of the views and thinking of the business community with respect to the opening of borders.

Last month Premier Dalton Tagelagi told BCN news that the government is still working towards the end of April for the two-way quarantine free travel with New Zealand. This means that a limited number of passengers as approved under the current travel advisories will be permitted to travel to Niue and will not be required to quarantine or stay in MIQ.

The government has not released information on when bona fide tourists will be allowed.

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