Harvest Festival 2017 is being planned for February 12 to 18, says association president Danny Mataroa who is spearheading the project.
February is normally considered below shoulder season for the tourism industry in the Cook Islands and Mataroa says the lack of visitors also affects growers since the demand for fruit and vegetables is low.
He says the country needs to grow tourist numbers on struggling months such as February to ensure a healthy economy throughout the year.
Mataroa held a meeting with fellow growers to explain his concept and idea to revive the festival, last held in 2013.
“In February, there aren’t many visitors in our hotels. The average occupancy rate is less than 25 per cent,” he said.
“During this same time, we have mangoes falling off the tree, avocado and pawpaw being wasted and star fruit being fed to the pigs because there is no one in the hotels to eat them.
“The key thing is, with so much fruit available during this month, resorts can run promotions such as free breakfast with accommodation to bring in people.
“That will not only benefit the hoteliers, but also the growers.”
Mataroa says growers needed to collaborate with a major sporting event during the month to successfully hold the proposed event.
He is now talking to the Cook Islands Football Association regarding their proposed beach football competition.
The weekly festival will start with a harvest blessing ceremony on February 12 followed by a range of activities such as field day competitions, Valentines Day flower displays, food and animal shows and a market day.
Mataroa said the aim was to increase the visitor arrivals by 10,000 by 2021.
“During the meeting (yesterday), we discussed the activities that we have on the tentative programme.
“The meeting was also to prepare the growers because we will have a number of competitions for things such as the biggest watermelon, pumpkin and bunch of bananas.
“There was a suggestion that we should hold a fruit buffet competition for the hotels and a fishing competition as well.”
Mataroa said he would be going out to the business community in coming months to seek sponsorship for the festival.
“Everyone is affected when we have low numbers of visitors in the country so everyone needs to do something to put the nation up at the time when it is down.”