Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council president Sue Fletcher-Vea said the low season would have given industry members an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming high season.
In February, the country welcomed 7608 visitors, which was 10 per cent lower than the number recorded in the same period last year. In February, 2018, 8459 visitors holidayed in the Cook Islands.
“On a positive note, I am sure the industry used the quiet time wisely in terms of carrying out repairs and maintenance as well as an opportunity for the industry to take a well-earned break from what was otherwise an extremely busy year,” Fletcher-Vea said.
New Zealand, which is the country’s leading market for tourists, also recorded a major dip of 11 per cent. In February last year, 4157 Kiwi visitors were recorded while 3710 were logged in February this year.
All other markets recorded a decline except for the Europe/United Kingdom which saw a two per cent increase.
Fletcher-Vea conceded they were facing some competition in New Zealand market.
She also said some complacency from the industry in terms of offering discounts could have given other destinations an edge over the Cook Islands during this low season.
“Reading the latest New Zealand visitor survey it shows a 65 per cent increase in New Zealand visitors to Indonesia so no doubt that we are facing some competition in the NZ market,” she said.
“This comes off the back of a very busy year or the Cooks and perhaps we were a little complacent in the market in terms of offering discounts.
“New Zealand had an amazingly hot summer so this would have affected last minute travellers from New Zealand that we may have seen in previous years.”
Cook Islands Tourism Corporation chief executive officer Halatoa Fua earlier stated the dip in February predominantly relates to the outstanding summer and strong competition in New Zealand.
Increased air capacity from Auckland to Bali, coupled with sharp deals to Hawaii and Fiji also have an impact, Fua added.
Fletcher-Vea said they would be working with leading stakeholders to ensure visitor numbers remain consistent in the coming months.
“Going forward, we will of course be liaising closely with Cooks Islands Tourism Corporation marketing to ensure that visitor numbers remain strong and that we are not taking our eye off the ball in any markets.”