A delegation from the Cook Islands was in the UK last month to spread the word that the Pacific Island destination’s popularity is on the rise.
In 2016 the country welcomed a record 146,473 visitors, an increase of 17.1% from 2015, with UK and Irish numbers up four per cent.
“Through our UK marketing efforts the word is now getting out about our crystal-blue waters, white sandy beaches and all-year-round warm weather,” said Karla Eggelton, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation.
“There is an authenticity to the islands that is evident by the welcome visitors receive from the moment they arrive. For example, one chap visits the airport every day to personally welcome every incoming visitor – and he doesn’t leave until the last plane has landed and its passengers have come through. He has been doing this for 40 years.”
Eggelton added: “Our current growth in numbers can also be put down to several factors, mainly increased air capacity and new product from Air New Zealand – the airline has introduced new aircraft on direct flights from Los Angeles, Sydney and Auckland, with increased capacity - more competitive fares and a new brand capturing the essence of the Cooks under one evocative tagline: ‘Love a Little Paradise’.”
The 15 islands that comprise the Cooks are spread over two million sq kms, situated halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.
The destination’s new website lists 52 restaurants and cafés, tours, accommodation options and general information. It features 50 videos showing off its people, culture and visitor experiences.