COOKS PM WANTS MORE ACTIVE PRIVATE TOURISM SECTOR

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AVARUA (May 31, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Sir Geoffrey Henry, also is Minister of Tourism, and he's concerned that local businessmen aren't taking a more active role in developing the Polynesian country's visitor industry.

Envisioning 100,000 revenue-generating visitors a year to the Cooks within a decade, Prime Minister Henry says he's disappointed with the quality of the visitor industry's existing organizational and business plans. They're not yet strong enough, he adds, to allow his government to relinquish control of Tourism Cook Islands to the private sector, as was contemplated several months ago.

He says non-action by the visitor industry "has been a real disappointment to myself and my officials."

Meantime, Sir Geoffrey says there are 918 hotel rooms in the Cook Islands that need to be filled. When the new Vaimaanga Hotel opens, there will be an additional 200 rooms.

The Cook Islands Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism has targeted 50,000 visitors for Fiscal 1997-98 and a 100 percent increase, to 100,000, by the year 2005. He wants the private sector to take the lead in making that happen.

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