It’s all go for Cook Islands and NZ - Tourism Restarts Today
Cook Islands tourism restarts today, ending a record 14-month closure of its borders to non-residents.
Graeme West, General Manager of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation for Australasia, said today’s first two-way quarantine free flight between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is the best thing that has happened in 14 months.
“It’s hard to describe the significance of what today means for the Cook Islands,” said Mr West “I’m ecstatic.
“Tourism is the mainstay of our economy comprising 70% of GDP, so when our borders closed in March 2020, we effectively shut up shop and our visitor numbers went to zero. This has caused financial hardship for many people.”
Mr West said since the travel bubble was announced, there has been a strong demand for bookings. “The response has been fantastic and we hope it continues. New Zealanders comprise two-thirds of all visitors to the Cook Islands, so from today, we’re overjoyed and relieved to be back in business.”
Rolling out the vaccine at the same time as the borders are opening provides another layer of comfort for both locals and visitors, he said.
Mr West said the Cook Islands is very fortunate to have remained COVID-19 free and has made the health and wellbeing of its citizens its top priority. With vaccinations starting on Thursday 20 May, people on Rarotonga and Aitutaki should be fully vaccinated by late June.
Mr West said New Zealanders are always welcomed very warmly in the Cook Islands and that tourism providers will be doing everything possible to ensure people have a fantastic holiday.
”We’re looking forward with much anticipation to welcoming Kiwis back to our beautiful islands,” he said. “We’re ready to go and to showcase everything that we’re renowned for - our warm tropical weather, stunning natural beauty, friendliness and hospitality and our great food.”
Contact tracing will play an important part in ensuring that quarantine free travel continues; and visitors will be encouraged to use CookSafe and CookSafe+ to assist. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation has also produced a Cook Islands Promise, a short list of what is needed to keep locals and visitors safe. Information on this promise and FAQs detailing what travellers need to know before departing NZ.