Tourist accommodation Kiikii Motel became an isolation facility because no one else wanted to, says its owner Napa Napa.
Napa said the government approached the accommodation because it needed a budget-conscious managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) service for tourists. It cost visitors $50 per person per night to self-isolate at the facility, which was subsidized by the government.
“It wasn’t about the money, it was just about providing a service because there was no one else who was willing to do it, that’s all, the government came and we approached,” Napa said.
His comments are on the back of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) thanking accommodation providers who have agreed to be isolation facilities for tourists who have tested positive for Covid-19.
On Rarotonga, KiiKii Motel, Ocean Resort and Spa and Edgewater Resort and Spa were all at one time isolation facilities. In Aitutaki, Tamanu Beach Resort and Reef Motels have become isolation centers.
Cook Islands News asked MFEM on Tuesday last week how many people were using the facilities, what accommodation they were staying in and how much the isolation facilities cost. The newspaper got no response.
However, Financial Secretary Garth Henderson told Cook Islands News in March that $1.1 million had been budgeted by the MFEM for the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Service (MIQ) from January 13 to the end of June of this year.
The KiiKii Motel missed part of the peak tourist season by remaining an isolation property until Aug. 31, however, Napa said the situation was “give and take.”
He said his accommodation had people staying at the start of the year when tourism was quiet, which made up for missing part of the high season.
Napa said from January to May “we had people in the house paying the government.”
“We were still working, I wouldn’t say it was a huge income but it was good.
“It was more than enough to keep my staff working and to do some renovations.”
Napa said it was a good experience and the staff had been trained by the Department of Health on how to perform deep cleanings.
But Napa said he wouldn’t choose to do it again.
“It’s good that we’re back and open again.”
MFEM said in the press release: “These facilities were an essential part of our health measures to prevent, limit and mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in order to protect our communities.”
“The accommodation facilities helped to ensure that a range of services were provided to all isolated people; ranging from laundry services, meals, security and clean rooms,” he said.
The MFEM also thanked the staff of Te Marae Ora, the police and the volunteers of Puna in a “very uncertain and difficult period”.