The Cook Islands has witnessed a record tourism numbers following last year’s introduction of Jetstar services to its destination.
Jetstar began flights between Auckland and Rarotonga in March 2016.
In the 12 months ended June 2017 visitor arrivals in the Cooks Islands jumped nearly 15 per cent compared with the same period the previous year.
Average monthly visitor numbers in the 15 months since Jetstar began Cook Islands flights have risen by nearly 16 per cent, to more than 12,800 visitors a month.
On an annual basis, the Cook Islands now welcomes over 155,000 visitors each year, a new record for the destination.
Daniel Banens, Jetstar Head of New Zealand, said providing a third airline option on the route had given a welcome boost to local tourism businesses in the islands.
“When we launched our flights last year it was the first time in more than 10 years a new airline had flown the Auckland-Cook Islands route,” Banens said.
“Rarotonga is a destination that Kiwi holidaymakers visit regularly because it offers fantastic options for rest and relaxation and is just a four hour flight from New Zealand’s biggest city.
”Travellers have warmly welcomed having a low fares airline flying to Rarotonga with increases in visitor arrivals from both New Zealand and Australia.”
Cook Islands tourism figures show New Zealand remains the country’s biggest source of visitors. In the 12 months ended June 2017 more than 105,000 Kiwi holidaymakers visited the region, up nearly 17 per cent on the previous year.
Australian visitor arrivals also rose in the 12 month period to over 24,500 annually, a five per cent increase compared with the previous year.
Graeme West, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation general manager for Australia and New Zealand, said the boost has been welcomed by local tourism operators.
“The big jump in visitor numbers is of huge economic benefit to the country,” Mr West said. “Everyone wins – hotels, activity operators, restaurants and cafes. Many people are involved in tourism and it’s fantastic to see the impact flow right through the community.
“We’re also delighted to see Australian visitor arrivals have increased as we have been focusing on a new marketing, operational and advertising direction in that market.
“The forward outlook is very positive with indications that the next 12 months could be another record year,” West said.
Jetstar offers three return services a week to Rarotonga departing Auckland Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, using a 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.