“While the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to diversify our economy, tourism will continue to be a key priority to re-engage our economy in the immediate term.”
Under the direction of Te Marae Ora health ministry, Cook Islands Tourism will start a marketing campaign specifically targeted to the New Zealand market which makes up 67 per cent of international visitors.
“The timing for the marketing campaigns will be executed, once we are clearer and more confident with the resources required to help prepare the Cook Islands in reopening its borders safely,” Puna said.
Rarotonga Hospital is now equipped with a negative pressure room - an isolated area that helps prevent cross-contamination.
The World Health Organization has also provided Covid-19 kits, so tests can now be carried out in the country, instead of being sent overseas.
Puna also paid tribute to mothers in the Cook Islands and abroad who he said are the epitome of sacrifice, love, and affection.
Welcoming “the mamas” and other stranded Cook Islanders who were part of the first group to return home on Friday, Puna said he was proud of the heart-warming welcome they received.
“It was a historic moment for us all in the Cook Islands, as the Covid-19 pandemic has divided our returnees from their families and loved ones,” he said.
The third and final group of 29 people entered the Holiday Inn on Friday to begin their 14-day supervised quarantine process in Auckland.
The Prime Minister said they look forward to welcoming the second cohort this coming Friday and there is the expectation that all returning Cook Islanders would finish their supervised quarantine by the end of this month.
Addressing the Pa Enua, Puna said since declaring the Cook Islands a Covid-19 free zone, it is imperative that official public health measures are followed precisely.
“This applies to all of us as one nation, regardless if you are in Rarotonga or the Pa Enua,” he said.
“We must uphold the inherent dignity and rights of our people as the foundation of our democracy.”