Tourism numbers should be soon reaching close to pre-Covid-19 peaks, according to the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation’s regional boss.
On Tuesday morning, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation’s New Zealand and Australasia manager Graeme West predicted that over the next six months, numbers would be about 80 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels.
“That’s much more
positive news than what we were expecting a few weeks ago,” West told an audience
of about 90 people for Tourism’s Global Breakfast Update at The Edgewater
“Our playing field
has changed. Airlines have not been able to get back to pre-Covid-19 capacity.
Covid-19 and seasonal flu has caused historically high isolation levels.
Multiple global routes have been affected, causing airfares to be historically
high,” West said.
been very cautious over the world. There is a new reality.”
West said everyone
was “stretched to capacity”.
“We expect our
position to be greatly improved by April next year,” he said.
However, he said Cook
Islands Tourism’s projections were that the numbers to March would be about 80
per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels.
“My forecast is we
will do about 80,000 visitors up to March. And that’s not bad, I think we can
all survive on that,” West said.
He said Air New
Zealand increasing its weekly service to Rarotonga to 10 flights a week from
November to January would really help the market.
“We can’t go back
to our pre-Covid levels because we don’t have connecting flights from Sydney
and Los Angeles. But we’re optimistic this would be rectified between April to
June next year. There’s a lot of work going in the background,” West said.
West said most
operators would have experienced a good July, and August was also on target to
experience solid numbers.
“The demand out of
New Zealand and Australia is really strong, and if we had more planes, we would
be able to fill them. For New Zealand, the numbers are about 115 per cent of
usual rates, so we’re punching above our weight in that market at least,” he
we’ve got is that there’s only so many seats available and we’re filling most
West said January
to March was “looking way better than it was a week or so ago”.
“I think we’re
going to do 90 per cent for January, 80 per cent for February and 70 per cent
for March, so we would be looking at about 22,000 visitors for that period,” he
these three months that are my biggest worry, because it’s tough to get Kiwis
out during this part of the year. Again, we have put in strategies in place to
achieve the numbers or even go higher.”
West said the
projections were “absolutely doable”.
“The good news is
that Air New Zealand does one or two flights per week from Australia with very
good same-day connectivity. We are working with several Australian carriers in
the background, trying to get more capacity,” he said.
After the speech,
West said the projections were based on the demand for flights and the
available capacity over the coming period.
“At the moment,
we’ve got the demand, but we can’t get them here at the moment. We’re slowly
getting back that connectivity to Australia. I’m very confident of those
figures, and think we can do better than the projections in January through to
March,” West said.