Driven by the Te Maeva Nui celebrations, visitor arrivals in the Cook Islands have soared, bringing extra joy to the local tourism operators.
Cook Islands Tourism chief executive officer Halatoa Fua said July and August were peak months for the tourism high season in the Cook Islands.
He said they were seeing similar trends to those recorded last year.
“The ability to maintain visitor growth and sustain the economy can be difficult considering it is a highly vulnerable industry, cyclical growth patterns, tough competition in the market place and turbulent global markets,” Fua said.
Te Maeva Nui celebrations provided a major boost, especially to Cook Islanders returning home for the weeklong cultural show, he added.
“This is a special year for the Te Maeva Nui celebrations as we welcome our people from the Pa Enua, adding to the festive atmosphere and cultural energy that can now be felt on Rarotonga.
“Government officials and the tourism industry are doing their best to manage the increase in visitors and locals alike during this time.”
The recent surge comes on the back of a healthy trend which sees visitor arrival growth at five per cent for the calendar year from January to December, 2018.
The latest figures from Cook Islands Tourism show 74,434 visitors visited the country from January to June this year. In the same period last year, 70,996 visitors were recorded visiting the Cook Islands.
In June this year, 16,083 visitors were recorded compared to 15,666 for June 2017. This represented an increase of three per cent.
The biggest incremental growth in visitors for June was from New Zealand which saw an increase of 624 visitors, followed by South Europe on 86 and North Europe on 30.
New Zealand also dominated the biggest incremental growth in visitors for the year to date (January to June, 2018) on 2642, followed by Australia (486) and South Europe (233).
The highest growth by percentage for June was recorded by South Europe on 65 per cent followed by China on 34 per cent and United Kingdom/Ireland on 22 per cent.
South Europe also led the highest growth by percentage from January to June this year on 41 per cent, followed by UK/Ireland on nine per cent and New Zealand on six per cent.
Tourism is the major driver of the Cook Islands economy contributing to about 60 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.