EXPECT tuna to be the main focus as the Cook Islands Government of Henry Puna seeks to consolidate support from the electorate half way through its term. But it won’t be an easy ride with Opposition Member of Parliament George Maggie driving protests against a deal between the Cook Islands and Spain’s super seiner fleets.
In November more than 300 placardwaving protesters voiced their opposition to purse seine fishing which is expected to secure millions of dollars in revenue. The Cooks expect to record an operating surplus equivalent to 5.6 per cent of GDP on the back of higher revenues from fishing license sales and fines for illegal fishing and increased grants. With more fishing licences granted in 2016, Puna’s government will be hoping for a successful year.
There is some concern over fluctuating visitor arrivals. A 2.2 per cent drop in arrivals over the first three quarters of 2015 was likely driven by rising costs – always a difficulty in a small market far from the major shipping and air routes. Visitors from Australia – the largest source market - fell by nine per cent but there is hope for recovery in 2016 with the introduction of flights by low-cost airline, Jetstar.