Recognition in Community
The Cook Islands tourism industry’s commitment to Cook Islands communities has been recognised by Lonely Planet, a leading travel brand that began publishing its popular travel guide books nearly half a century ago.
Lonely Planet has announced that the Cook Islands is a winner of the “Best in Travel” award for 2022, which recognises destinations that are both appealing and committed to community, sustainability, and diversity.
One of the criteria by which the panel of travel experts select recipients of this prestigious award is whether tourism in that destination benefits the communities in which it exists.
“Recognising the traveller is a guest, this criteria looks to celebrate places putting local communities at the forefront of their tourism initiatives, establishing reasons to visit and businesses that are for the benefit of all,” says a document Lonely Planet designed to answer frequently asked questions about the award.
One example of ways in which the Cook Islands’ tourism industry centres communities is the Kia Orana Values Project, an initiative of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation designed to align the tourism industry with Cook Islanders’ core cultural values.
Another is the Mana Tiaki Programme, which seeks to reward, with monetary compensation and boasting rights, community-level efforts toward sustainable development.
The “Best in Travel” award follows more than a year of tight restrictions on international travel to the Cook Islands. While few tourists visited the Cook Islands in 2020 and most of 2021, tourism professionals remained committed to the community’s well-being. An example of this commitment through the slow season was their support of the Cook Islands Games, which involved amateur and skilled athletes competing in modern and traditional games and boosted morale throughout the community in the middle of a pandemic.
“We are so grateful for this award and how it recognises our commitment to making sure our people benefit from tourism,” says Noeline Mateariki, marketing manager for Cook Islands Tourism Corporation (CITC). “A lot of people have been working hard to develop ways to make sure this industry supports the well-being of our communities.”
For more information about travelling to the Cook Islands, visit cookislands.travel