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Cook Islands Tourism off to ‘perfect’ start

Cook Islands tourism is enjoying a perfect start to the 2017 season, with visitor arrival figures trending at a growth of 17 per cent for the financial year 2016/2017.

Both January and February have seen an increase in visitor arrival figures, resulting in a record 15 months of consecutive growth since December, 2015.

Last month, 7731 visitors jetted into the Cook Islands compared to 6109 for the same period last year. This represents a growth of 27 per cent.

New Zealand visitors once again provided the most incremental growth in February with an increase of 1236 followed by Australia on 241 and North America on 92.

In February last year, 3034 visitors from New Zealand visited the Cook Islands compared to 4270 this year. This represents a growth of a massive 41 per cent.

New Zealand also provided the biggest incremental growth of visitors in the calendar year since January, with growth of 2294 visitors followed by North America on 615 and Australia on 261.

Figures for the financial year from July, 2016 to last month have also been dominated by New Zealand which recorded a growth of 11,874 followed by North America on 1080 and Australia on 668.

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation chief executive officer Halatoa Fua said he was pleased with the consecutive record growth, adding it was a boost for the industry.

Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council president Sue Fletcher-Vea said the change in the travelling habits of the visitors, especially from New Zealand, had been shaping the continuous growth.

Competitive airfares introduced by additional airlines servicing the route were also driving the increase.

“If you look at the figures, it’s mostly the New Zealanders who are dominating the growth and that doesn’t surprise me.

“It’s down to the fact that the airfares are lower and there are more specials which the Kiwis get to enjoy.

“I also think there is possibly a little change in New Zealanders’ travel. There are younger travellers who tend to travel all year round rather than in seasons.

“Unlike previously when they escaped the winter for a warmer Cook Islands weather, we now see Kiwis travelling in other months as well and this is all influenced by the special deals the airlines offer.”

Fletcher-Vea said current visitor trends had left just a “little” gap between the high and low tourism seasons.

This was a big help for the industry as operators did not have to lay off staff or cut down their hours because of fewer visitors.

However, Fletcher-Vea said the growth in visitor arrivals had increased the need to safeguard their assets and maintain standards.

“We have to look out for our environment and other factors, and support initiatives that safeguards our assets.

“We have to be vigilant and always look out for alternatives. We have to remember to look after our visitors and be the welcoming Cook Islanders we are well known as.”.
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