And this need, he adds, provides Cook Islanders with an opportunity to invest in a sector which dominates the local economy.
An Asian Development Bank (ADB) report released earlier in the year highlighted slow growth in the Cook Islands economy due to a lack of infrastructure projects and accommodation capacity constraints in the tourism sector.
At a press conference last week to highlight new initiatives of government in the 2016-17 budg-et, Brown said investment to improve infrastructure in the Cook Islands was an ongoing process.
He said government had committed a significant amount of money each year to ensure work continued on infrastructure.
“The government is well aware of that (lack of infrastructure) and we are looking at that. We have plans for the sealing of the runaway in Atiu to expand capacity on the outer islands,” Brown said.
“There is an understanding that we are reaching peak numbers in terms of accommodation. So there is an opportunity for more investment but that’s really for the private sector to have a look at and see whether they would like to make the investment.
“I know we are now getting higher occupancy rate for a significant portion of the year so the op-portunity to expand is there.
“With added flights that are coming now, it provides opportunities to our people here for invest-ments to take place.”
Ministry of Finance and Economic Management economic advisor James Webb said invest-ments had been made by the government in having access to clean drinking water, improving sanitation tourist hotspots such as Muri and having reliable electricity supply in the outer islands.
He said much money and time had been put in by the government and donor agencies to im-prove on these facilities.
“Infrastructure takes time; you can’t build everything at once. It’s a slow process but there has been a significant investments in improving infrastructure in the country,” Webb said.
The ADB report released in April said the Cook Islands economy suffered from low tourism growth due to accommodation shortages during the peak season.
However, their findings were challenged by the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, which ques-tioned the validity of the report regarding the industry.
“Lack of large new investments in hotels constrains tourism and broader economic growth. Without adding accommodation, tourism earnings can only be raised by increasing local inputs and attracting more high-end tourists, but these measures are unlikely to spur employment growth,” the report said.
The report suggests easing approval procedures for land leases and new tourism developments could expedite investment and facilitate growth in the private sector, thus creating jobs in the tour-ism industry.