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Tourism set to take on regenerative approach

Tuesday 20 December 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Environment, Local, National, Travel

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Tourism set  to take on  regenerative approach

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is proposing a new approach to tourism and development in the region with a stronger focus on environment and sustainability.

The Cook Islands Tourism Development Strategy will guide the operations of Cook Islands Tourism’s destination development team.

“The strategy builds upon the work achieved in this space and will improve and strengthen areas previously under-represented,” Sustainable Tourism manager Sieni Tiraa said.

“It aligns with national, regional, and global sustainable development aspirations as outlined in the National Sustainable Development Agenda 2020+, Pacific 2030 Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework, and UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Tiraa said the strategy focuses on a more regenerative approach to tourism and destination development in the Cook Islands over the next five years.

“Regenerative tourism refers to supporting an environment that caters to a visitor who will leave a destination better than it was before,” she said.

“This regenerative approach goes one step further and suggests that rather than primarily considering the needs and wants of the visitor, future tourism development will improve the holistic wellbeing of the Cook Islands people and environment.”

Asked how this approach might work, Tiraa said: “At this point the strategy is new and we have yet to make a lot of it operational, however our existing programmes such as Mana Tiaki are examples of a regenerative tourism practice that will continue.”

“There are other examples such as supporting community-based tourism and our refreshed Mana Tiaki Certification scheme that can be highlighted.  

“This wellbeing is articulated across the ‘four C’s of well-being – Community, Culture, Conservation and Commerce.”

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation chief executive Karla Eggelton said the underpinning goal is to ensure holistic wellbeing lies at the very heart of all decision making and associated actions.

“We are excited to embark on the regenerative journey as we enter the new year and a period of diversification in terms of source markets with the launch of our direct flights to Hawaii and Australia,” Eggelton said.  

“The regenerative movement will provide the monumental shift that is required to ensure that we build back better, stronger and more resilient.”

Director of Destination Development for Cook Islands Tourism, Christian Mani said the Strategy work plan has four aspirations – to enhance and leverage our visitor economy, to optimise the visitor experience, to empower the tourism industry, and encourage regenerative tourism practices

“The CITDS represents the future for Cook Islands Tourism and the pandemic has reiterated that tourism requires a regenerative shift,” Mani said.   “It also provides an opportunity to create a legacy for the Cook Islands that translates into significant benefits both now and for future generations.”