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Protecting our future by sustainable tourism

Saturday October 19, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
Te Ipukarea Society Vice President Avaiki Aperau with German tourist Nele Hubert. 19101833 Te Ipukarea Society Vice President Avaiki Aperau with German tourist Nele Hubert. 19101833

Earlier this year two environmental studies students from Sweden visited the Cook Islands to do some research on sustainable tourism, as a part of their studies. They found few tourism operators were actually aware of the Cook Islands Sustainable Tourism Development Policy Framework and Goals.


This document provides an excellent guide for tourism development and covers seven goals ranging from governance and leadership, to human resource development, to economic management.

The Mana Tiaki Eco certification programme  is a big step forward towards achieving the fourth goal, “to ensure the protection of the pristine environment through sustainable practices”.

Below are some of the environmental challenges:

» General environmental quality in Rarotonga and Aitutaki is vital to tourism and the industry must play a role in protecting this resource. Muri and Aitutaki Lagoons are vital, but recent algal blooms have highlighted the importance of evidence-based approaches to solving environmental degradation.

» The Environmental Impact Assessment process is applied to all new tourism products that have the potential to disrupt the environment. This is especially important for water or land-based products that do not feature permanent structures, eg trail development.

» Increased use of bicycles, hybrid/electric rental vehicles and public transportation help address growing congestion on the roads.  Cycling enables a slower more interactive form of tourism; electric vehicles or public forms of transport may become a marketable point of difference.

» Reducing tourism-related waste is aided by the accreditation system.

» Enhancing water conservation through improved measures and education helps address concerns around current and future water availability on Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu. It is vital the industry contribute to efforts to reduce water use and the accreditation system represents a model to achieve these goals.


Kelvin Passfield
Te Ipukarea
Society opinion


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