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Saturday 13 February 2010 | Published in Regional


Management at two of Aitutaki’s major resorts have reported no major fluctuations in bookings and said that the stream of tourists to the cyclone-ravaged island is fairly regular.

Pacific Resort Aitutaki and Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa are quickly bouncing back from the disaster with the assistance of local resort staff and Rarotonga support teams.

Thomas Koteka, general manager of Pacific Resort, said that the resort’s booking profile “hasn’t changed much and there have been no cancellations as such”.

He said that the resort is fully operational and although “it’s a little messy, and some rooms are worse than others, it’s all coming on line.”

Koteka said that as soon as Pat abandoned Aitutaki, teams of helpers and specialists from Rarotonga piled into airplanes on a mission to assist in any way possible.

Their first priority was to clear away fallen trees and bits of scrap metal, and their next task is to re-establish water systems and power lines. The final stage will involve re-developing the resort’s landscape, which suffered significant damage. Koteka said that the whole re-construction process shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks.

He said that the local staff played a major role in getting the resort back on its feet.

“The most amazing thing that’s happened is the staff’s response,” he said. “They came on to assist without pay, while they were dealing with their own problems at home.”

Pacific Resort housed and fed local staff, who worked around the clock to ensure that by Wednesday, guests were again sunbathing, dining out and going on fishing tours.

“We’re bouncing back really quickly,” he said. “We’ve just got to take it one step at a time.”

Koteka said that all rooms at Pacific Resort Aitutaki are full with either guests, local staff or support crews, but once they empty out they will be available to local families who are in the process of re-building their homes.

Also bouncing back is Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, which suffered extensive damage in Wednesday night’s debacle.

Managing director Tata Crocombe said that a team of 20 tradesmen – plumbers, electricians and carpenters – flew to Aitutaki to assess the damage and make necessary repairs.

He said that support teams made rapid progress and the resort opened for business yesterday.

As the largest private-sector employer on the island, Crocombe said the resort has an obligation to be back in business so as to keep its staff employed and the economy functioning as usual.

Crocombe also said that local staff were key to the reconstruction effort.

“Our staff have lost homes but have been magnificent,” he said. “They’re coming back to work and working around the clock.”

Koteka said that he was impressed by the number of committed people who jumped on board the relief effort. He said that though the damage was extensive, “we’ll begin to see a transformation of the island within days.”

“This is the Pacific and this is what we’re all about,” he said. “We know there’s no time to sit around and think about what’s wrong – there’s only time to move forward.”