Those wanting to travel from Rarotonga to New Zealand can only now book flights departing from August 14. 20072704.
Air New Zealand has pushed out its bookings freeze on international flights to August 9, but Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown remains optimistic Cook Islands tourism will soon be open for business.
Existing bookings that have been paid for will be honoured, but anyone who has not booked and paid for tickets from Rarotonga to Auckland must now wait for a later flight.
The first available flight to Auckland is now on Friday, August 14.
Discussions are also taking place between Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Government to develop a voucher system that Kiwis would need to access in order to return to New Zealand.
With September looming and phase two of Cook Islands’ economic response plan due to run dry, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said easing border restrictions was critical to resuscitate the country’s economy and social wellbeing.
“While in New Zealand tourism income makes up about six per cent of the GDP, in our country tourism is our main industry and makes up 75 to 80 per cent of GDP,” he said.
“It must not be underestimated that our tourism sector also provides a net economic benefit to New Zealand through the importation of its food and other products and the purchase of services from New Zealand-based travel wholesalers and airlines.”
Brown acknowledged that New Zealand is also hurting from the global Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis – and said the travel would go both ways.
“Once such an agreement is in place Kiwi visitors will be coming from their country that has succeeded in eliminating community transmission of the coronavirus, to our Covid-19 free island paradise that has not reported a single case of Covid-19,” he said.
“Likewise, we Cook Islanders are looking forward to visiting our friends and whanau in New Zealand more frequently, as well as meeting essential services for our judicial system, infrastructure projects, health referrals and education professionals and students.”