7 ways the Cook Islands is getting sustainability right

Alex McClintock - Escape
Welcome to paradise preserved.

Travelling to the Pacific can be an environmentally confronting experience. You, a comparatively rich tourist from an industrialised country, take a carbon intensive flight to a developing nation that will be one of the first places in the world negatively affected by climate change and rising sea levels.

In many other Pacific destinations, this dynamic is compounded by the use of imported food with a huge carbon footprint, luxury hotels’ water-and-chemical intensive cleaning policies, land clearing for development and more.

But the Cook Islands seems to be taking a different tack, building sustainability into the development of their tourism sector. Here’s seven ways they’re getting it right:

1. The flight is greener

The new Jetstar flight to Rarotonga, JQ141, will be exclusively serviced by Jetstar’s newest aircraft, the Airbus A321neo LR. Not only is the plane quieter and roomier than its competitors, it’s the most fuel-efficient single-aisle aeroplane in the world, burning 15 per cent less fuel than the previous iteration. With aviation contributing around 2.5 per cent to world greenhouse emissions and Pacific nations first in the firing line when it comes to rising sea levels, any reduction feels good.

2. Water conservation is paramount

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Despite being surrounded by the bright blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands are beset by worsening droughts and water shortages. That’s why it’s encouraging to see tourism operators thinking hard about water conservation. At many hotels, treated rainwater comes out of the taps, while Ocean Escape Resort and Villas has gone a step further, building a

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