With over 80 attendees, the ceremony was filled with bright ei katu and beaming smiles as local tourism businesses were awarded and recognised for their hard work and contribution to Cook Islands tourism.
Director of Destination Development Metua Vaiimene opened the ceremony with a warm “kia orana” to all those who had made the journey to Aitutaki for the ceremony, as well as congratulating all those who had been recognised by visitors for their extraordinary customer service.
“The A1 Meitaki awards is an initiative between Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and Cook Islands Sun and the idea is to reward members of the tourism industry who are providing excellent customer service,” Vaiimene said.
“Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and the Cook Islands Sun started this programme in 2016 and since it has started, we have slowly seen the names of the Aitutaki industry start to appear in the nominations.
“Visitors can leave nominations for those who have provided excellent customer service, either at the international airport in Rarotonga or at the Cook Islands tourism office in Rarotonga.”
Vaiimene said individuals who received the awards must receive multiple nominations in order to be considered, and not every tourism business would win an A1 Meitaki award.
“Cook Islands Tourism celebrates the A1 Meitaki awards programme so that those people who are working hard in our tourism industry may be recognised.
“We are launching the tourism week with these awards here on Aitutaki as this island (Aitutaki) is a very special part of our tourism industry.”
Aitutaki’s deputy mayor, Terepoto Williams handed out the awards to each recipient.
Some of the recipients were unable to make the awards ceremony as they were working through their lunch breaks - a prime example of the hard work the A1 awards ceremony rewarded.
The ceremony recognised both teams and individuals who had been commended by visiting tourists for their outstanding customer service and commitment to making each visitor’s holiday memorable.
Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Aitutaki Adventures, Rino’s Bungalows and Rentals, The Boat Shed Restaurant Aitutaki, Sailing Aitutaki, Vaka Lagoon Cruise Aitutaki and Tamanu Beach Resort - were just some of those recognised for their outstanding work.
Vaiimene congratulated every resident on Aitutaki for contributing to the success of the Cook Islands tourism industry.
“Thank you very much to all those in Aitutaki, especially those working hard in the tourism industry, but also all of the people who are doing their bit.
“Whether you are planting in your garden, or fishing, or if you are a grandparent looking after your grandchildren while your children work in the tourism industry, or even if you are on the side of the road and offer directions to tourists walking past, you are part of the tourism industry and we all thank you very, very much for the wonderful work you do here in our beautiful paradise. Meitaki Maata,” he said
With that attendees were welcomed to share in a magnificent kaikai and encouraged to spend their Monday embracing the beautiful, sunny day Aitutaki had to offer.