As in other cultures, food is a major part of Cook Islands life, culture and ceremonies, and the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is eager to develop the ‘Takurua’ brand with a focus on defining our cuisine culture so that it can be as big a part of attracting people to our shores as our climate, islands, beaches and people are.
Director of sales and marketing Karla Eggelton sums it up like this: “There is so much depth to all elements of food and what it represents for our people,” she says. “We chant, sing, and dance about it.
“Takurua is intended to provide a platform from which the Cook Islands can speak to food, the meaning of food, types of food, cooking and service methods of foods, and the cultural importance of foods and food ceremonies to the nation.”
From a visitor perspective, food tourism is a current buzzword in the industry that won’t be going away any time soon.
People are looking for meaningful reasons to travel to destinations and have authentic experiences. Visitors want to connect with everything ‘local’ – because that is where unique experiences can be had.
The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is excited about exploring this area and establishing a sub-sector that understands the potential of success by working together.
Equally importantly, these destinations – islands, villages, etc – can benefit from keeping it local. Flow-on effects can create income, employment, farming and fishing opportunities – and even address depopulation. Solutions for social issues around health and nutrition can also be considered.
The Tourism Corporation sees endless opportunities for making Cook Islands lives better through food tourism.
This evening many of our local dishes will be on show and available to taste at Highland Paradise and the conversations will begin on refining down a ‘Takurua’ strategy.
Tomorrow there will be a tour of local plantations, giving the visiting chefs a chance to see what fruits and vegetables are on offer.