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Record year for Aussie visitors to the Cook Islands

Wednesday 3 July 2024 | Written by Talaia Mika | Published in Economy, National, Travel


Record year for Aussie visitors to the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands attracted over two million viewers to the Channel 9 Australian show’s initial broadcast earning the top rank amongst various other global destinations. Photo: Travel Guides images. Image credit: Channel 9 Travel Guides/ 24070203 / 24070204

It’s anticipated that this financial year will see more Australian visitors to the Cook Islands than ever before, with 32,000 holidaying here.

Cook Islands Tourism CEO Karla Eggelton said it’s been a year since Jetstar started direct flights from Sydney, Australia to Rarotonga, and now there are four direct flights per week.

“It is expected that Australia will deliver 32,000 visitors this 2023/24 financial year - the most Australians ever in one year,” the tourism CEO said.

Her announcement follows a remarkable milestone for the Cook Islands having secured top rankings on the 'Travel Guides' a Channel 9 Australian television series, a first in the history of the seven-season trendy show.

Eggelton also emphasises that investment in the Australian travel market remains a priority with 20 percent of visitor arrivals to the Cook Islands coming from that country.

“We need to drive awareness in this market and build momentum that translates into bookings. Travel Guides is a key activity to build a sustained nationwide profile as an attractive tropical holiday destination for Australians,” she added.

The Cook Islands attracted over two million viewers to the show’s initial broadcast earning the top rank amongst various other global destinations.

It then continued to engage audiences on TV, reaching a total national audience of 2,182,000.

The Australian television series features a diverse group of travellers exploring different destinations and sharing their experiences and all Travel Guides awarded their Cook Islands holiday a perfect five out of five stars.

The episode earned widespread attention across Australia and Cook Islanders residing in Australia also contributed to the country’s perfect score on Travel Guides.

The episode not only topped the ratings charts but also outperformed major news channels Seven and Nine News and scored prime time wins in all demographics, particularly among the 25-54 age group and young adults aged 16-39.

This weekend's activity blitzed social channels and website activity on Cook Islands owned platforms seeing a spike in traffic to the website with an increase of 174 per cent of daily users to the website. The Cook Islands Facebook page which currently has 992,000 followers.

Followers experienced a 218 per cent increase in reach and a 183 per cent rise in engagements, while the Cook Islands Instagram account with a total of 115,000 followers saw a 153 per cent increase in reach to new accounts and a 57 per cent increase in engagement.

Cook Islands Tourism’s director of global sales and marketing Noeline Mateariki said the focus now is to leverage this current hype and interest.

Efforts are being made to showcase the unique beauty and experiences of the Cook Islands, highlighting why it should be at the top of a traveller’s bucket list.

This includes working with the Cook Islands Tourism Australian office and team, planned advertising campaigns and promotional activities being rolled out across Australia, utilizing press, radio, social media, and outdoor advertising channels.

In support, Jetstar flights are currently on sale with an AUD $229 one-way fare, available until midnight on July 6, 2024 (AEST).

This offer has been shared with the Australian trade and consumers reaching over 80,000+ subscribers.

Tourism’s head office general manager of marketing Daniel Fisher said: “On top of having 13 cast/travel guides, the film crew consisted of 14 members including a series producer, story producers, director of photography, camera operators, camera assistant, sound team, production manager and a cast coordinator Rachel Mackey, the Australasian marketing manager who led the planning flew in to assist, supplemented by local head office team members, including myself and digital marketing coordinator Terangi Taio.”

“It really was a full-on 10 days of filming. When factoring in logistics and weather a total team effort was required to make a production of this size work. We extend our meitaki ma’ata to our accommodators, tour operators, and everyone involved who showed their Kia Orana spirit, leaving the cast and crew with such memorable experiences."

“The commentary has been extremely heart-warming. It is so wonderful to see feedback from our iti tangata ki Australia, and we are now working on a date in the future where we can show this whole 50 minute episode on local television for our very own Cook Islands residents to enjoy too,” said Fisher.

While filming on Rarotonga and Aitutaki took place in November 2023, the planning took several people several months to coordinate. Additional reporting Cook Islands Tourism