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Tourist numbers double in April

Monday 23 May 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, National

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Tourist numbers double in April
Kia Orana ambassador Nane Teokotai Vainepoto Papa directs a tourist. Photo: CI NEWS/ 21052122

The number of tourists arriving here more than doubled in April compared to March and people in the tourism industry say they’ve noticed the difference.

The number of visitors in the country increased from 3583 in March to 8079 in April, according to Cook Islands Statistics.

In January when the quarantine free travel with New Zealand resumed, there were 3638 visitors and February had 3173.

Tourism Industry Council president and general manager of Muri Beach Club Hotel, Liana Scott said people in the industry really noticed the increase from the second week of April onwards.

“This was clearly evident by shortages in rental vehicles at times, restaurants being full at peak times and massage and beauty treatments being fully booked for some days,” Scott said.

She said accommodation providers were all sitting at different occupancy levels.

“Some smaller places have back to back bookings while others may have bigger gaps. Overall, some of the bigger hotels with more rooms to fill could easily take more customers while others in the high-end category are showing 70 per cent plus.”

Graeme West, general manager of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation for Australasia, forecast the Cook Islands to reach two-thirds of 2019 numbers in the coming months. In 2019, 171,550 tourists visited the country.

West shared his findings in mid-April at the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation’s first Global Breakfast Update of 2022 and predicted around 8000 tourists in April, 8000 in May, 9000 in June and 12,500 in July.

Scott said the stats were very important for all sorts of reasons which included planning.

She said the industry was ready for 12,500 tourists in July.

“By that time most of the staffing shortages should be well and truly sorted.

“What is difficult at times is ensuring sufficient produce, particularly local produce able to cover those sorts of numbers.”

West told Cook Islands News in April: “It’s easy to look and go we’re only doing two-thirds of what we were doing but that’s comparing to our very best year of 2019. If you go back to 2015, we’re back to those kinds of levels, so it’s not bad at all.”

“Fiji is still down around 40 per cent, so we are at least punching and holding our weight.”