Dear Editor, I am very surprised that there is not much opposition from tourism operators and accommodation owners here on Aitutaki concerning this referendum to oppose Sunday flights.
Our family has just spent a considerable amount of money to build accommodation for visitors and we are very concerned with this referendum.
Visitors to our accommodation who come on Sundays amount to around 30 per cent. The main reason they travel on Sundays is for the convenience of connecting international flights from Rarotonga. If these Sunday flights are taken away a lot of tourism businesses will be affected. We know Aitutaki only gets a relatively small number of tourists compared to Rarotonga, so it makes sense to grab any opportunities to bring in more visitors.
Throughout the year visitor numbers are inconsistent. January, February and March this year have been the worst that we have seen for visitor numbers. To say now that we might stop the Sunday flights is like putting another nail into the coffin for tourism here. Most of our people on Aitutaki work in the hospitality area and a lot of these workers will be laid off or will have to work reduced hours. And then what happens? They all go to greener pastures.
Do the religious sector on Aitutaki and the Government understand the repercussions of their political ambitions? Have they discussed the situation with those involved in the Aitutaki tourism sector to get their views?
If some of these hospitality businesses can’t meet their loan repayments, would the government and the religious sector be able to bail them out?
Maybe those affected by this referendum can take half the Sunday donations that the church receives.
After creating the earth God rested on the seventh day, not because it was Sunday, but because he was tired.