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The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by consumers and businesses across the Blue Pacific and Australia, as conditions are imposed to help slow the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented disruption to the global economy and world trade, as production, consumption and trade routes are scaled back across the globe.

At PTI Australia we’re working closely with our stakeholders to monitor the effect COVID-19 is having on the businesses we work with, in the Pacific and Australia, and we will continue to offer as much support and guidance as we can.

As an agile agency, we are working remotely and have changed how we work in our Key Strategic Areas to adapt to the rapidly changing environment.

Tourism

The global impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry is unprecedented. Last week, in partnership with WHL our digital tourism service provider, we launched PTI Australia’s Digital Tourism COVID-19 support package. The package provides tourism operators who are part of PTI Australia’s Digital Tourism program a significant reduction in monthly service fees for hosting and other support charges, and digital support to prepare their business so they are in the best position when the market returns.

Due to travel restrictions we have adapted and are now delivering our Digital Tourism Workshops virtually. Our first workshop, in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Kiribati, is to be delivered virtually to Kiribati Tourism operators this month on Tuesday 28 April.

Trade

This is a challenging period for exporters in the Pacific, with major disruptions both at home and abroad.

The drop in the Australian dollar has made everything more expensive, particularly for those importers who buy products from the Pacific and are charged in US dollars. With the majority of Australian businesses working from home and the closure of non-essential businesses, it has toughened conditions for new business development. With the continual changing business environment, our Export team has been working closely with Australian distributors and buyers, to understand the impact of COVID-19 on imports from the Pacific and supporting Pacific exporters to appreciate how the Australian market has changed as well. For established Pacific products in the Australian market, we are diving deeper to recognise if the market opens up opportunities in the short term, due to shortages in the Australian market because of panic purchasing.

Through our Digital Trade program we are continuing to evaluate opportunities to further promote Pacific products and build the capacity of businesses in the Pacific to utilise digital technology to drive awareness and export sales.

Investment

The Pacific is still open for investment. There is a natural caution in the investment market, and we are working closely with the Pacific’s Investment Promotion Agencies who are very active with incentives to help attract foreign investment and reinvestment into the Pacific. We have been working on our online investment directory to showcase and promote opportunities.

With the rise in socially conscious investment, our Investment team is using this time to support businesses by providing them with the tools to articulate and demonstrate their potential for investment. This will ensure these businesses are in a position to acquire investment that will enable sustainable growth, while facilitating a continued positive social or environmental impact.

Labour Mobility

COVID-19 has significantly affected Australia’s hospitality and tourism industries nationwide. An estimated one million jobs have been lost in Australia. All hospitality venues are closed due to Public Health orders, resulting in mass standdowns and redundancies. The accommodation sector is equally affected due to international and domestic travel bans, and new laws introduced on 30 March 2020 have banned Australian residents from visiting regional Australia in the upcoming Easter and school holiday period. Existing Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) employers such as Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort have temporarily closed and placed staff on standdown.

We are communicating regularly with Australian employers to keep up to date with the changing dynamics of the Australian labour market. Our promotion of the PLS needs to be sensitively managed in the current environment, so our focus is on low-key awareness building of the program. We are taking a soft, targeted approach to identify employers who, post-COVID-19, can submit genuine recruitment plans and move quickly to recruit, as this will be critical to the recovery of regional industries in Australia and provide opportunities for Pacific employees.