At the sponsors launch yesterday, Bank of the Cook Islands general manager Vaine Nooana-Arioka confirmed Henry’s attendance at the annual awards, to be held in April next year.
The 71-year-old Henry, who is being considered one of the most successful rugby union coaches, guided the All Blacks to the 2011 Rugby World Cup win.
Nooana-Arioka said they were honoured to bring someone of Henry’s calibre to the prestigious awards.
“We were able to bring in a guest speaker (last year) and it is my absolute privilege to be able to announce again that we have been able to secure another keynote speaker of high standing and that person is Sir Graham Henry.
“With Sir Graham Henry’s presence, we hope that the awards night will be an event to attend. In that respect, we hope that it will be as successful as it was last time.”
The Air New Zealand Cook Islands Tourism Industry Awards is the industry’s most anticipated event.
The awards have two underlying objectives - to stimulate a process of continual business improvement and to recognise excellence within the Cook Islands tourism industry.
Awards will be presented to winners in new categories aimed at being more inclusive and relevant to today’s tourism industry.
These categories are culture, environment, adventure/eco-tourism, visitor experience/customer care, marketing, business excellence, employer of the year and community development.
Other awards in next year’s event will include the Outstanding Contribution to Tourist Award and the Lifetime Achievement to Tourism Award.
The two New Zealand-based judges will receive all applications directly from the applicants.
Online applications for the awards will be open to the tourism industry this month. Hard copies of the application form will be available through the Cook Islands Tourism information office. Applications close in early December.
When finalists are selected, the judges will visit the Cook Islands for personal interviews in February before finalising the winners in the various categories.