The colourful event filled the Avarua township with freshly-sewn frangipani eis, colourful “kia orana” gear and an abundance of smiling people.
The event saw over 30 individuals recognised and awarded for their exceptional customer service, drive to make every visitors holiday memorable and overall contribution to the booming Cook Islands tourism industry.
The ceremony coincided with World Tourism Day 2017, a day to raise awareness on the contribution sustainable tourism has on public and private sectors within international communities.
“Today the Cook Islands joins countries all over the world to commemorate World Tourism Day,” said Destination Development director, Metua Vaiimene.
“The Theme for World Tourism Day is sustainable tourism for development. In fact, for the whole of 2017 all world commemoration days set by the United Nations agencies have included sustainable tourism in their themes.
“This year is the international year of sustainable tourism for development.
“Cook Islands tourism has decided to celebrate world tourism today by acknowledging the people in the tourism industry who provide exceptional customer service to our visitors.
“Through their friendly and professional customer service members of the community continue to ensure that any of our visitors access the wonders of our little paradise,” Vaiimene said.
The first A1 Meitaki Award paid homage to the late Pakuru “Apu’’ Simpson or “Mr Hopeless”.
“Our first recipient is one tinged with sadness. Mr Hopeless from the Cooks Buses who passed away recently and so is not here today to receive his award.
“Pakuru “Apu’’ Simpson, known as ‘Mr Hopeless’ was nominated 12 times for an A1 Meitaki award by visitors who were privileged enough to be transported by him on Cooks Buses,” Vaiimene said.
A Representative from Cooks Buses received the award on his behalf.
“Aere ra Abu – the Cook Islands has lost a Meitaki service champion.”
The ceremony went on to recognise numerous local businesses and individuals.
Polynesian Rentals, Ariki Adventures, Highland Paradise Cultural Centre, Captain Tamas, Hawaiki Villas, Castaway Restaurant, Palm Grove, CIPS, Aroa Beachside Inn, Raro Buggy Yours and the Islander Hotel were just a few of the businesses recognised for their tremendous work.
Vaiimene went on to extend a massive “Meitaki” to everyone apart of the Cook Islands community who do their bit within the tourism industry.
“Cook Islands Tourism wishes to also thank everyone who do their part for tourism. From the people who welcome our visitors at the airport, to those involved in getting them around, to those who accommodate and look after our visitors, the tour guides, the shopkeepers, the mamas and papas at the market.
“And let’s not forget there are many people who live and work overseas that are doing their part to bring visitors to our country.
“To all of you, on behalf of Cook Islands tourism and on behalf of the country - Meitaki Maata,” he concluded.
Following the conclusion of the event, participants and bystanders were invited to take part in a brief moment of celebration, in which joyous Cook Islands drum music was blasted through surrounding speakers and those present stood, danced and laughed – all in the spirit of “Kia Orana”.