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