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Letter: Free and unlimited internet

Wednesday 13 March 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Free and unlimited internet

Dear Editor, I have posted a couple of articles to LinkedIn promoting free and unlimited internet as a competitive advantage for the Cook Islands.

Someone has to do this, no one else as far as I am aware is promoting and shouting from the rafters in like manner.

We are in a race against time and if we don’t get our bums into gear, then some of our Pacific neighbours and competitors reading my articles will take the bull by the horns and run with it. I just don’t want to say, “I told you so”. Cook Islands Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, businesses in the Cook Islands, put your money where your mouth is. You want them to come, then the offer is on the table, a genuine opportunity will go begging if you do not. The onus is on you to get with the play.

Just because you think they will come to us in the off-season is not guaranteed, because the reality is that it is not a given. They have choice and are only hours away by plane, comparable to a drive between major New Zealand cities. Give tourists and visitors what they want, an opportunity to connect, the opportunity to brag, the opportunity to show what they are experiencing but not at a cost that sends them to rack and ruin over data costs.

I am a strong supporter of emerging technologies and its relationship to the Cook Islands. I and many others want to leverage this tech so that the Cook Islands becomes the destination of choice for tourists and visitors through its eateries, accommodation and businesses providing free and unlimited internet as a unique point of difference and as a competitive advantage that differentiates itself from other tourist destinations in the Pacific Islands.

By offering free and unlimited internet to tourists and visitors to our shores, this can be a powerful and unique selling proposition for the Cook Islands. The question then becomes how do we take advantage that this opportunity presents given the extremely competitive nature of tourism in the Pacific and the entrenched business model that ensures tourists and visitors are squeezed for every dollar that can be squeezed out of them for connectivity.

Let’s face it no matter where people go anywhere in the world, they want to be connected 24/7/365 on their devices whether it’s phone, tablet, or pc. They want to capture that event and post it, they want to download, video, update, stream, game, message, zoom, in short, they go into depression if not given their daily fix.

The media and the big telcos know this and charge them like wounded bulls for data, top ups and sim cards. Watch what happens when one exceeds their data cap, whammo, more money flowing out of their pockets, down a deep dark hole.

Well, the Cook Islands is also such a place, and it is time we looked at tossing out that business model of fleecing the masses. The challenge of course for the Cook Islands and the other Pacific nations is that there is an on-season and an off-season for tourists, and it is the off-season that needs an eagle-eye focus.

A lot of the businesses are standard, set in place business initiatives, in fact all of them are this is an achillies heel. Once the season is in a lull how do they attract people to come, stay, eat and spend money when all the other Pacific Islands destinations will all be in or on the same vaka chasing the elusive tourism dollars.

We are all used to paying for services or goods that have hidden costs, whether it is fees, VAT, GST, corkage etc and we have become so used to doing this that it is now second nature whether we like it or not.

The benefit of providing free and unlimited internet becomes part of an accommodators room rate or an eatery puts an extra $1 on its sales and so does a business.

By strategically implementing and promoting free and unlimited internet, the Cook Islands can position itself as a modern, tech-savvy, and visitor-friendly destination, setting it apart from other tourist destinations in the Pacific Islands.

I have also reached out to an organisation that has a free app on the Cook Islands which we could utilise and update to include a database of places that offer free and unlimited internet connectivity rather than myself trying to reinvent the wheel.

Off my own back I have also set up a link on my FB pages for those who have decided to join my database of those offering such an innovation including GPS coordinates of where they are located. I will update this link as places come on board.

Te Tuhi Kelly

Leader of the Progressive Party of the Cook Islands


phil smith on 14/03/2024

Top idea Mr Kelly