“Looking to take a cheap vacation? You’ve come to the right place,” the Forbes article begins, before listing 33 international destinations it considers to be “the best cheap travel spots around the globe”.
It then goes on to describe the Cook Islands in glowing terms: “lush tropical beauty, vibrant reefs and a Polynesian vibe that is both traditional and modern”, and singles out Aitutaki as a “not to be missed” destination that is “home to what many refer to as the world’s most beautiful lagoon”.
But while some saw the article as a positive thing, others were not so sure.
“Oh dear, we don’t really want to be a cheap destination,” said one online commenter, while another was of the opinion that the Cook Islands doesn’t want “budget tourists”.
“We want people who value what we offer and put into our economy,” they continued.
Others pointed out that destinations in countries such as Italy (Naples), Canada (Vancouver) and Greece (Karpathos) also made the list. “I wouldn’t consider them ‘cheap’ places.”
Cook Islands Tourism chief executive officer Halatoa Fua agreed, noting that “the Cook Islands is listed amongst other destinations such as New Zealand, Australia, Moorea (in French Polynesia) and cities across the United States, Canada and Italy”.
“The write-up on the Cook Islands is outstanding as it appeals to the experiential traveller and ‘soft’ explorers,” he added. “It mentions the rich culture of the Cook Islands people, the good range of accommodation, the sophisticated offerings of Rarotonga, and refers to Aitutaki as the most beautiful lagoon in the world.”
Fua further explained that having the Cook Islands featured in a Forbes article, “gives us free coverage to its affluent audience that has significant marketing value”.
“Forbes is one of the USA’s leading business publications, with a circulation of over 900,000 and monthly unique visitors of over 27 million to its digital sites,” said Fua.
“While the article is titled ‘The 33 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2018’, the author has reached out to a handful of travel insiders to obtain ‘the most amazing and affordable places to add to your bucket list’.
The article notes that experts are predicting travel prices to increase, hence it listed “good value for money” destinations.