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January arrivals best on record

Thursday 29 February 2024 | Written by Candice Luke | Published in Economy, National, Travel


January arrivals best on record
Cook Islands Tourism Corporation (CIT) Director of Destination Development, Brad Kirner. CIT /24022760

A record total of 10,368 international visitors were welcomed to the Cook Islands last month according to newly released statistics for January 2024.

Numbers surpassed January 2023 by 3327, and overshot even pre-Covid January’s, when 2020 and 2019 saw 9986 and 10,128 visitors, respectively.

All of the main source markets saw an increase versus 2023 figures, with New Zealand (+39%), Australia (+76%), Europe/UK (+43%) and USA (+67%) all performing well, and even smaller markets such as Canada, French Polynesia and Asia showing proportionally strong growth. 

The results come ahead of what is traditionally the slowest month for tourism in the Cook Islands; February. 

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation director of destination development, Brad Kirner said: “While we want to move away from focusing purely on visitor numbers as a measure of performance, it is encouraging to see our shoulder season perform well.”

“It will be interesting to see what insights our International Visitor Survey (IVS) for this quarter says about these visitors – we know a large proportion of our guests at this time of year are visiting friends and family, so hopefully our qualitative measures like length of stay and average spend will provide some more good news for our industry and economy as a whole”.

Published quarterly, the International Visitor Survey is an ongoing partnership between Cook Islands Tourism, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), with the latest insights covering international tourists who visit the Cook Islands. 

The latest International Visitors Survey, dated July 2022 - June 2023, illustrated an upwards trend across all visitor insights compared to pre-Covid figures from January 2019 - March 2020.

The average length of stay increased to 8.9 days from 8.5 days and visitors were spending more with the average daily spend (on island) increasing just over 32 per cent to $204.

The increased daily spend may have been helped by visitors’ higher household incomes, sitting at $150,973 compared to $136,536 previously. 

Those who say they would be willing to recommend the Cook Islands as a destination, or willing to return, increased as well, following an uptick in visitor satisfaction to 4.7/5. 

Last year visitor arrivals jumped 26.3 per cent of the number recorded in the year 2022, exceeding the expectations of the Cook Islands tourism industry.

Cook Islands received 143,506 tourists in 2023, a massive increase of 29,955 from 113,551 visitors who embraced our shores in 2022.

The 2023 figure was the fifth highest recorded in the Cook Islands, behind the peak arrivals of 171,713 in 2019, 168,760 in 2018, 161,362 in 2017, and 146,473 in 2016.

In the Covid-19 years of 2020 and 2021, 25,230 and 26,330 arrivals were recorded, respectively.

Cook Islands Tourism Council chief executive Karla Eggelton said last year’s arrivals surpassed the 2023 forecast of 130,000.

She previously told Cook Islands News: “This has been achieved in November, so the additional numbers from December were welcomed.” In December, Cook Islands received 13,270 visitors compared to 9916 in 2022.