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Opinion

Scott re-elected Tourism Industry Council head

Friday 26 August 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Business, National

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Scott re-elected Tourism Industry Council head
Liana Scott. PHOTO: CI NEWS/21101120

Cook Islands tourism is picking up, but is still highly reliant on one source, according to the Tourism Council’s president.

Re-elected Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council president Liana Scott spoke to fellow members at its annual general meeting at Edgewater Resort on Thursday.

“With 2021/22 came the realisation of the Covid-19 emerging situation we were in. While the reopening of the border in January this year allowed us to begin rebuilding our tourism-reliant economy, we remain very conscious of other barriers as tourism starts to gain some normality and road to recovery,” Scott said.

“It wasn’t until I was in NZ recently and obtained a fuller appreciation on how far our little destination has progressed when viewed against the wearing of masks being still very pronounced, many businesses closures and a worrying crime wave.  

“I am not saying that we were not affected or unscathed by the effects of Covid-19, but it does seem that with constant lobbying from your council and government support we survived better than others.”

However, Scott told Cook Islands News that the country is still heavily reliant on one source – Auckland airport – for its visitors.

She did not expect that to change rapidly.

“I think we hope to see some opportunities April onwards, and there is of course potential with Tahiti,” Scott said, referring to the recent collaboration between Air Rarotonga and Air Tahiti Nui, which has just got off the ground.

Scott said there had nonetheless been solid growth in the New Zealand market.

She said in recent months there had also been difficulties in getting the right supplies for menus, not just the recently publicised shortage of potatoes, which has led to many outlets not selling fries or chips.

“The island has been out of Gnocci, Lamb French Racks, and much more. Often, we don’t know until the delivery doesn’t turn up and chefs either need to adapt or say they are unable to serve or come up with an alternative,” she said.

“We can increase purchases, but it’s easier said than done, sometimes produce has a short life span or limited freezer or chiller space which prevents stocking too much.”

The price and availability of airfares was also an inhibitor for future tourism numbers, Scott said.

“Airfare prices have to be relative, and when comparing to other destinations, we can outprice ourselves – hopefully with more flights added recently, we will become more competitive – but unfortunately it is very much a supply and demand scenario,” she said.

Scott said she was grateful for the support of her fellow Tourism Council members.

Successes over the past year include lobbying for reduction in barriers to travel, ensuring the wage subsidy continued past its due by date, and securing a quarantine hotel for Covid-19 positive cases that could not be accommodated by the private sector.

After Scott finished her President’s Report, the Treasurer’s Report was tabled, and then the AGM moved on to the election of office bearers.

The new Executive Committee is: President: Liana Scott Vice Presidents: Robert Skews and Brent Hayden, Secretary: Kristina Lewis Treasurer: Betsy Eisler. Executive Members: Anand Naidu, Greg Stanaway, Chris Doran, Andrew Whittaker, Anna Aitken, Jael Abera (Pa Enua Rep)