The single port of entry requirement for maritime vessels entering the Cook Islands has now been amended to include the ports of Aitutaki, Atiu, Tongareva and Pukapuka in addition to Rarotonga. Pictured is a cruise ship that visited Rarotonga late last month. 22083105
The Cook Islands has welcomed the second cruise ship of the year when the Paul Gauguin arrived in Aitutaki on Tuesday from Huahine, French Polynesia.
The ship, with around 200 passengers, then sailed overnight to
Rarotonga, arriving yesterday morning.
The Paul Gauguin cruise ship was also the first to visit the Cook
Islands since the borders reopened – visiting Rarotonga on June 28.
Cruise Cook Islands managing
director Stuart Henry said the ship was at 80 percent of its capacity and
continued building back numbers to pre-pandemic levels on each trip.
“Slowly it's getting back to a bit more of a normal tourist
operation,” Henry said.
“It's only a small part of the
tourist business here but it's a bonus part, more tourism avenues for us helps.
“Putting us back on the maps with
the ships is good.”
Prior to Cook Islands borders
shutting, the Paul Gauguin would visit Rarotonga an average of six times a year
and eight in Aitutaki.
“It's only a small ship but she's
a regular ship,” Henry said.
Visitors of the cruise flew into
Tahiti and left the main port to Huahine before sailing to Aitutaki. Henry said
the majority of travellers on board were American and French.
He said the marine border entry
regulations have been amended which allows Aitutaki to become a first port of
call, which means the ship does not have to first sail to Rarotonga.
He said in Aitutaki visitors went
on lagoon cruises and island tours. On Rarotonga he said around 100 people were
doing various activities while the other half were “cruising through” the
market and town.
The ship is also visiting Aitutaki
again later this month on the way to Fiji from Tahiti, and in October on the return.
Another smaller vessel, the Silver Explorer, will visit Rarotonga then Aitutaki
in October. In December the Paul Gauguin will visit both Aitutaki and Rarotonga
In June Cook Islands
Tourism Corporation’s destination and marketing manager Christian Mani said
based on previous research, passenger daily spend on Rarotonga was around $91
and Aitutaki was around $76.
“The breakdown of the costs included are land/water excursion, food and beverages, crafts, retail, transport,” Mani said.