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Wednesday 31 March 2010 | Published in Regional


Cook Islands Tourism’s latest campaign to attract visitors back to Aitutaki following Cyclone Pat has been a resounding success, selling out in a matter of days, says NZ manager Chris Ingram.

In conjunction with Air New Zealand and Air Rarotonga, CI Tourism negotiated flights from Rarotonga to Aitutaki for $1 each way, subject to booking a minimum five night holiday to Rarotonga with a minimum three night stay in Aitutaki.

“The concept was all about getting people back visiting Aitutaki. The island is completely reliant on tourism and despite it being back up and running to completely support visitors to the island, people had stopped travelling there. Fortunately it worked, in fact we also negotiated some $99 one way airfares and they also sold out. It’s great news for Aitutaki.”

Originally from Aitutaki, Ingram says he is incredibly passionate about the island and the Cook Islands as a destination.

“It was emotional returning home and hearing the stories from my family and friends about the cyclone. I am rapt we’ve been able to drive much needed visitors back to the island and the great thing is Rarotonga will also benefit as a direct result of the campaign.”

He says a drop in visitor numbers over the last six weeks has been felt deeply across the island.

“Hotels don’t need as many staff on duty, the restaurants aren’t as busy, neither are the tour companies taking people fishing and snorkelling. It was vital to get people back there so they can see it is business as usual but also how beautiful it is.”

Ingram says through visiting the island of Aitutaki they are doing so much to assist the local people.

“Donations are greatly appreciated but it is the return of the visitors that will truly help my people with rebuilding their own homes and more importantly their lives.”

With Air NZ’s special link to the Cook Islands having commenced jet services to Rarotonga nearly 40 years ago, Rob Fyfe was all behind offering support.

“We have a special connection to Aitutaki, with the TEAL flying boat service operating there almost 60 years ago. It really is a very special destination and once people have experienced its postcard beauty they will feel an affinity with the Aitutakians forever.”