Visitors ready to explore Rarotonga on Sunday. 23121822
Tourism’s contribution to the Cook Islands’ gross domestic product (GDP) for the last quarter of 2023 (October-December) was estimated at 75.4 per cent, according to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.
This figure follows reports from Flight Centre in
New Zealand, which experienced an 80 per cent surge in bookings to the Cook
Islands and Fiji over the past three months.
Heidi Walker, Flight Centre’s general manager, told
Tim Dower of NewstalkZB that they saw an 80 per cent surge in last-minute
bookings in the three months leading up to Christmas, compared to a 15 per cent
increase over the same period last year.
Walker attributed the surge to Kiwis’ desire for
island getaways, sunshine, and creating memories.
She emphasised the Cook Islands’ welcoming
atmosphere and dependence on tourism, adding that they see positive signs for
airfares in 2024 and anticipate further sales in the New Year.
Cook Islands Tourism chief executive Karla Eggleton said
they need to prioritise continued investment in the country’s single and only
significant economic sector.
“This will mean giving the Tourism sector, the people and
the businesses that make it happen more support in the coming years.”
Eggelton said the visitor forecast for the Cook Islands
for 2024 is positive, but Cook Islands Tourism needs to focus on developing a
medium-term strategy for 2025 and 2026.
“These things take time, and we should look at ways now
to ensure that we work together to future proof business so that we can ensure
its continued success,” she added.
Andrew Whittaker, CEO of Island Hotels Limited, parent
company of The Edgewater Resort and Club Raro, reported Christmas Day and
Boxing Day were bustling with diners and saw strong occupancy rates thanks to
staycations and returning Cook Islanders.
The New Year was also shaping up to be very promising,
Whittaker said last week.
“We will be continuing to invest in the Resort’s
especially with the infrastructure at the Edgewater.”
The Tamanu Beach Resort in Aitutaki has enjoyed 90 per
cent occupancy since Christmas and expects it to continue until January 6.
Resort general manager Nick Henry said their Island Night
event on December 27 was a complete sell-out, with the restaurant buzzing with
activity on Christmas and Boxing Day as well.
“The hotel is bustling at the moment with families
from New Zealand and Australia – some are Cook Islanders who are home for a
Henry said the resort will experience a slowdown after
January 6, 2024, giving the team a chance to “catch their breath and have a
He said the island’s beaches are full with people and
lagoon cruises are pumping at the moment.
“It has been a ‘full-on’ season since the end of
April. We wonder where the year went ...”