US sold on Cooks for budget holidays

Sunday January 12, 2020 Written by Published in Economy
Travellers to Cook Islands will find a whole lot of bargains at Punanga Nui Market. Travellers to Cook Islands will find a whole lot of bargains at Punanga Nui Market. COOK ISLANDS TOURISM 20011065

Competitive airfares and a range of private accommodation have driven down prices for tourists.


Cook Islands has once again been showcased as a holiday destination – as one of the cheapest places to travel this year.

US-based business magazine and website Forbes published the list yesterday. It is the latest to highlight this country’s offerings for budget-conscious travellers.

Stefanie Michaels, an American TV personality who has appeared on every major network in the US and is the chief executive of, chose Cook Islands.

Writing for Forbes, she explained it was because (compared to Fiji and famously overpriced Tahiti) she believed Cook Islands gave the best value in Oceania.

Coveted by Kiwis and Aussies, this tiny grouping of islands had been one of their main holiday spots, Michaels said.

“Gin-coloured waters, white powdery sand beaches, fresh seafood, lovely locals who can’t do enough for travellers and varied accommodations to suit solo travellers, honeymooners and families make this the best option for beach-seekers west of Hawaii.”

Cook Islands Tourism chief executive Halatoa Fua said the Cook Islands was the only South Pacific destination to feature in the 2020 Forbes list, made up of some of the most exotic, picturesque and under-rated destinations in the world.

“We are pleased to be featured amongst destinations that offer diverse experiences and world class art scenery, beaches, nature and wildlife, tracks and trails, winery and cuisine,” Fua said.

“The Cook Islands lack awareness in the US market hence this free feature will only benefit us in creating awareness in this key market.”

The list gave travellers a choice to travel to a destination that was not over-rated and was off the beaten track, Fua said.

“For example, Bergamo is featured and not Milan; Hawai’i (big island) and Maui are featured and not Waikiki; Nice and Guadeloupe are featured and not Paris; and Middleburg is featured and not Washington DC.”

The Cook Islands is featured and not Fiji and Tahiti, which speaks to the value proposition Cook Islands offers as a renowned destination, Fua said.

“We have a variety of accommodation, incredible scenery and most importantly, the friendly and hospitable people,” he said.

“The high visitor satisfaction rate of 98 per cent means most visitors leave with a fulfilling and enriching Cook Islands experience.”

Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council Sue Fletcher-Vea said she was not surprised about making a prestigious Forbes list.

“We have been seen as an expensive destination in the past mainly based on the price of airfares, accommodation and food prices in the supermarket by New Zealand visitors with some still thinking they need to bring food in,” Fletcher-Vea said.   

However, things had changed a lot with more variety of meat and food in the supermarkets and many road side stalls for fresh produce.

“People’s habits have also changed in terms of eating out and we now have many cafes, restaurants, night markets, and takeaway foods all of which are certainly cheaper than the home countries of our biggest markets,” she said.

“We also have three airlines flying in which have brought airfares down, more tour operators and more accommodation including many private holiday homes which have meant that travellers can opt for budget style accommodation if they prefer.”

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