CIT Release

Kia Orana kotou katoatoa,

Happy New Year! We hope you had a fulfilling and enjoyable festive season and ready to tackle the new opportunities and challenges ahead of us in 2020. The Cook Islands will graduate from developing to high-level income status on 1 January 2020 under the criteria set by the OECD. Tourism is the impetus for this transformational development and will remain an important sector to the Cook Islands.

The year 2019 marked another year of Tourism’s significant contribution to the Cook Islands economy for the benefit of its people and sustaining livelihoods. The latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) to September 2019 shows visitors spend $1,903 per person prior to arrival and $148 per day ‘on island’ spend. The average length of stay for this quarter is 8.3 nights which is lower than the annual average of 8.5 nights. Visitor satisfaction rate remain at a high rate of 98% with the local environment and people being the most appealing aspects of the Cook Islands. Total visitor arrivals had a slow start in 2019 but has grown at +2% for 2019 (11 months). A total of 673 properties or 3,064 rooms were recorded as short term accommodation in the Cook Islands, ranging from holiday homes to resorts. Air access is the catalyst for tourism development and the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation continues to be committed to its airline partners.

While Tourism is an effective tool for economic and community development, it must be managed in a way that is sustainable and meet the long term national goals on environment, governance, human resource, culture, health and safety. The Corporation’s focus for 2020 will be heavily based on Sustainable Tourism. This will require strong collaboration with our partners in Government and the private sector to strengthen the quality of Tourism. A re-organisation of the Destination Development department is underway to include sub-divisions in Sustainable Tourism and Business Partnerships Programme (Quality Assurance). Priorities include the strengthening of the current accreditation scheme on its standards and members’ benefits, and formalising MOUs with respective Government Departments that will solidify co-operation and identify clear outcomes for the various sectors. Existing programmes under Destination Development will continue as part of its core function e.g. Kia Orana Values, Vaka Pride, event development, etc.

Destination Marketing continue to be a key focus in creating the awareness and consideration of the Cook Islands as the holiday destination for prospective visitors. Milestones in the Corporation’s website unique visits and social media following were achieved in 2019, placing emphasis on the momentum required in the key source markets. The year 2020 will see strengthening of our multi-use content, partnership and co-op marketing campaigns and streamline our online processes. Aligning our efforts to sustainable tourism means the Corporation is planning an eco-sub-brand to showcase and develop sustainability in the Cook Islands. Our resource centre (digital assets and research data) provides a strong foundation for our communication strategy. We will continue to seek partnership from both international and local operators to meet our sales and marketing objectives.

May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support and dedication to this industry. We look forward to your partnership and co-operation in 2020!


Kia Manuia,

Halatoa Fua
Chief Executive Officer
Cook Islands Tourism Corporation