Cook Islands Tourism is pleased to launch the nation’s new Cook Islands Quality Assured (CIQA) accreditation programme.

Cook Islands Tourism

Cook Islands Tourism is pleased to announce the launch of the nation’s new Cook Islands Quality Assured (CIQA) accreditation programme in January 2023, formally known as the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation and Quality Assurance Programme.

“The programme builds on a foundation of standards originally owned and administered by the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council (CITIC). The programme was carefully examined, redefined and realigned with tourism operations post pandemic, the “Cook Islands Sustainable Tourism Policy and Framework Goals” and the "Global Sustainable Tourism Council" criteria” said Cook Islands Tourism CEO, Karla Eggelton.

Andrew Moros, Business Partnership Manager for Cook Islands Tourism said “A lot of work and careful planning has gone into renewing the programme and I am very proud of my team and their support in bringing this together. We are extremely excited to launch the programme and raise tourism industry operational standards for the mutual benefit of the business, the visitor and the nation.”

The CIQA accreditation programme is based on a set of minimum standards that businesses must meet to suffice accreditation. The new programme also introduces guidelines for best practice, which are not mandatory but provide operators another level of excellence when achieved. Liana Scott, President of Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council commented “The programme is designed to provide confidence to visitors that they are choosing an operator that has gone above and beyond to assure high level service, quality facilities, safe practices, and friendly Cook Islands hospitality”.

There are a number of benefits to businesses that want to become CIQA, the major being that applications are now free of charge and funded via Cook Islands Tourism. This was previously a base cost of $130 per application with additional fees for larger businesses.

A vital step of renewing the programme was to identify and redefine the tourism sectors, specific to the Cook Islands so that tourism sub-sectors could be introduced. This was so that new standards could evolve and be specific to each sub-sector rather than the generic parent travel sector, as seen in recent years. An example of a parent travel sector is Accommodation, and the two correlating sub-sectors specific to the Cook Islands are, Holiday Homes and Hotels/Resorts.

Once this was achieved, consultations with the relevant government departments, non-governmental organisations and various members of the Cook Islands travel industry were held, to ensure each programme worked specifically for the respective sub-sector.

A new online version of CIQA was then developed to simplify the application process. This means businesses can now apply from anywhere, at any time on any device. There is also an option for businesses to save their application, and complete at a time that suits them. These developments were implemented to further encourage applicants to make the move and become a member of CIQA.