Ron Heckman, from Utah, said changes to the Los Angeles flight to Rarotonga had inconvenienced him to the point where he would not be holidaying in the Cook Islands in future.
He said the six hour wait at Rarotonga International airport on a Sunday for a connecting flight to Aitutaki was too much. He added that he no longer will holiday in Rarotonga because of issues including stray dogs, restaurant overcharging and rental companies hiring mechanically defective vehicles.
Heckman, who added he had visited the Cook Islands five times in the past, said he had instead decided to holiday in Fij.
Said Fua: “I thank Ron for his letter in which he highlighted the negative aspects of his visits to the Cook Islands including dog nuisance, flight schedules, the quality of rental vehicles and his food and beverage experience.
“Visitor feedback is important for us to understand what we can do better to enhance the visitor experience and protect our tourism industry as the largest economic driver.
“The issues he has highlighted are also reflected in the Cook Islands Tourism International Visitor Survey, which we share with the tourism industry and government to address.
“We will continue to work with our key partners to address these issues as we don’t want to lose the idyllic charm of Rarotonga. I also take on the comment on the Los Angeles- Rarotonga scheduling and will continue to discuss this with Air New Zealand”.
“I’ve also attached the latest Cook Islands International Visitor Survey (CI-IVS) which has similar findings. I will discuss with the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council (Accreditation Scheme) and relevant government departments on how we can improve these service offerings.
I’ve extracted the following from page 15 of the attached report (CI-IVS) in regards to the least appealing aspects of what visitors experience in the Cook Islands:
Compared with the annual data of 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, there is relative reduction in negative comments about stray dogs and other animal disturbances.
“Comments about public services and facilities, rubbish and natural environment care, the price of goods and service, food and beverages, accommodation, and attractions and activities remain at similar levels, or have increased slightly.”