Twenty-five years on, he is the owner and director of South Pacific Publishing Ltd, a local business recognised at this year’s Air New Zealand Cook Islands Awards.
South Pacific Publishing Ltd was awarded the Tourism Industry Support Award, as a business that has raised the profile of the Cook Islands to a wide range of international travellers and has become recognised as the leading publication for tourist information in the Cook Islands.
The judges said South Pacific Publishing Ltd was able to inform visitors and deliver stories about the Cook Islands, operating with professionalism and a commitment to quality, representing valuable and important support to the country’s tourism industry.
The business was rated as excellent for business overview, operations and process, customer care, culture and heritage and people management, and won merits for marketing and environment sustainability.
Bartley says the company has also continued to produce brochures for the Tourism Corporation.
“This year we are introducing two more languages. We already have English, German and Italian brochures and will introduce French and Spanish.
He said the Tourism Corporation “Cooks Book” brochure started off as a 24-page publication and has grown over the years to 112 pages, advertising accommodation and activities in the Cook Islands.
A total of 40,000 copies are printed every year and distributed offshore through all the Tourism Corporation offices and representatives overseas.
These are productions that not many Cook Islanders see, because their main function is to encourage overseas visitors to come to the country.
Escape Magazine was first introduced in 2004 and Bartley saw it as an important tool to educate visitors to the Cook Islands on aspects of local culture, activities, places to visit, dining and so on.
“The two productions are complementary to each other; the Cooks Book brochure encourages people to come to the island, whereas Escape Magazine tells them more about the island with local information when they get here.
“We based the concept of Escape Magazine around an in-flight magazine because there is no Cook Islands airline and it grew from there.”
Escape was sold to new owners in February this year. Bartley said they had decided to sell as he and his wife Katrina were looking to semi-retire but carry on producing retail products such as pictorial books and the Cooks Book brochure for Tourism Corporation.
During his years with Escape Magazine he has visited 12 of the 15 Cook Islands and has met with the local people.
“As a publisher, meeting deadlines really puts the pressure on you, but at the end of the day there is an awesome reward. I am really grateful to the journalists who supported me and contributed to the magazine over the years, and of course to all the advertisers, because without their support it would not have happened.”
Asked what he would miss the most as a publisher, he laughed and said meeting deadlines was definitely something he was not going to miss.
However, after a few minutes of reflection, Bartley said he would miss the media contact, the way his journalists reached the grassroots people and the adventure of travelling to the smaller islands.
“But there is no reason why we still can’t do that and after 25 years we are grateful to have received an accolade that we can be proud of, at a point in time where we decided to semi-retire.”