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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (December 18, 2000 – Cook Islands News)---Visitor arrivals in the Cook Islands reached more than 70,000 last month.

Also recorded was a significant increase of almost 18,000 visitors for the past 12 months, according to the latest figures released by the Tourism Corporation.

Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Wong, says, "What this means is that despite other destinations offering bargain package deals and the end of Fiji’s political crisis, the Cook Islands can hold its own in terms of what it can offer."

But Wong is concerned that with accommodation running at around 95% full, operators are hard pressed to satisfy existing demand.

"In the past year, only 30 new rooms have been added to the existing room inventory, so we will not be able to sustain this type of growth in the coming year unless additional rooms come on line."


Meanwhile, Wong says November also saw an increase in the number of tourists from Australia (+53%), New Zealand (+18%), United States (+16%), and Europe (+29%), but a decline from Canada (-11%).

"Last year Canada 3000 put on a special flight a couple of days before the start of its season. They didn’t do that this year, and that’s why the numbers are down," he said.

On the marketing side, Wong says promotional activities conducted during the July-September quarter reached a variety of niches in all markets.

"The Corporation participated in Dive, Weddings and Honeymoon, Arts and Crafts and other holiday and travel oriented consumer and trade shows in all major markets.

Among the highlights for the first quarter of this financial year was the visit by the "She" and "Cleo" magazine team from New Zealand. "This will see a 36 page feature on the Cook Islands as a destination, with a circulation of 80,000."

Editorial staff from NZ Woman’s Weekly magazine followed their visit, which will yield full-page coverage on the Cooks, with a circulation of 80,000.

"Billboard advertising in Auckland and cooperative advertising with key suppliers and local industry operators has paid off in this market," Wong said.

Australia media visits included travel writers for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Sun as well as the team from Channel 7’s Great Outdoors program, which will have a reach of 2.6 million with an equivalent advertising value of AUS$ 1.5 million (US$ 836,700). Wong said, "Consumer and trade advertising with wholesalers supplemented travel media coverage and attendance at various travel shows enabled us to reach over a quarter of a million consumers during this period."

He says a Cook Islands Road show of North American -- covering 11 cities in Canada and the United States with Air New Zealand, Canada 3000, key suppliers, and local industry operators -- helped to educate travel agents on the destination, while advertising with key wholesalers helped to strengthened TC’s presence in this market.


Considerable activities took place in the UK-Europe market during this period also, with the most significant being the BBC’s NZ$ 2.4 million (US$ 1,063,320) TV promotion of the Cook Islands as the feature for a "dream destination" prize offer for a popular TV show.

Wong said, "The South Pacific Tourism Organisation representatives were able to secure NZ$ 8.3 million (US$ 3,677,315) in publicity value through media visits to the region during this period, reaching 6.5 million readers."

"The Cook Islands continues to rank in the top two South Pacific destinations in terms of the number of inquiries coming through the European representative offices for the South Pacific."

"The Corporation also receives in excess of half a million hits on its website per month, reflecting the increasing interest in, and popularity of, the destination," the Tourism Corporation CEO said.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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