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Tracing tourists and the people who come in contact with them

Tuesday 28 July 2020 | Written by Katrina Tanirau | Published in Economy


There is a sharp new focus on rolling out the contact-tracing app CookSafe. Katrina Tanirau reports ahead of today’s major tourism breakfast meeting.

Te Marae Ora cannot emphasise enough how important contact tracing is as a response measure to Covid-19.

CookSafe, the contact tracing programme being trialled by the Health Ministry and the Private Sector Taskforce will be one of the key topics covered at Cook Islands Tourism’s first Global Breakfast Update since March.

The Global Breakfast Update will be held at the National Auditorium today, starting from 8am.

More than 70 representatives of the country’s tourism industry have already confirmed their attendance.

The focus is on the essential requirements to prepare for a tourists to travel between Cook Islands and New Zealand.

More information will also be shared about CookSafe the contact tracing programme being trialled by Te Marae Ora and the Private Sector Taskforce.

“The importance of contact tracing as a response measure to the Covid crisis cannot be emphasised enough so we will be sharing more information about this with our industry members at the GBU,” said Metua Vaiimene, Director of Destination Development.

Key topics covered on the day will be an update from Cook Islands Tourism chief executive Halatoa Fua, the Cook Islands Promise, the new Kia Orana Plus rapid training programme and the CookSafe contact tracing system.

Cook Islands Tourism CEO Halatoa Fua said the Cook Islands Promise is a joint commitment to safeguard both visitors and the local community from Covid-19.

The Cook Islands Promise will be detailed further, including the launching of the new Cook Islands Promise video created by local companies Motone Productions and Creators Hype.

“The promise will help ensure that the community and industry can step forward with confidence when visitors return.”

Kia Orana Plus is a new rapid training programme developed by Cook Islands Tourism to prepare the tourism sector for the re-opening of the country’s tourism industry.

Vaiimene said Kia Orana Plus would provide industry and community with key recommendations and standards on how best to operate and prepare for visitors.

Meanwhile, the UK has cleared its citizens to travel to Cook Islands, removing us from the “no go” list.

But the local tourism industry council says the exemption is largely irrelevant since British travellers are banned from transiting via New Zealand, the only entry point to Cook Islands.

Liana Scott, the acting president of Tourism Industry Council, said: “Although we are grateful for the lift of the travel ban out of the UK Foreign office, getting to Rarotonga still requires travel via the US/Asia/New Zealand, so entry is still restricted by the transit countries rules and restrictions.”

Scott, who is also the general manager of Muri Beach Club Hotel, said the Cook Islands still can determine what passports/entry points are allowed in and out of the country.

She added the country would “naturally be cautious about whom it accepts”.

“Protecting the country from Covid-19 is the priority and monitoring visitor country arrival movements at this time is paramount,” Scott said.

Forming a travel bridge with New Zealand, which is Cook Islands’ major source for tourism, remains the key goal for the country.