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AVARUA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News/PINA Nius Online) - Leading Cook Islands tourism industry players are discussing the performance of long-time Tourism Corporation chief executive Chris Wong.

Criticism centres on the current mix of tourists, said one industry source who did not want to be named.

Some industry sources claim the record numbers are not at the profitable high-end of the market.

"I was shocked. I thought everyone was happy with Chris but these guys were saying it was time for Chris to get the boot," said a source who spoke to the Cook Islands News

Wong’s defenders point out that, after the September 11 terrorist attacks last year, tourism operators were expecting the worst - and happy to take any tourists. Wong himself said some of the same concerns remain from last year about attracting high-end tourists.

"You've got a situation where your long haul markets are down because their economy is depressed," Wong said. "There's the aftermath of September 11 and Americans are still not keen to travel at this stage because of the imminent Iraqi situation."

Wong added, "You've got to ask yourself, if you want high-end tourists, have you got a high-end destination?"

Tourism Corporation Board Chairman Robert Skews yesterday did not publicly talk about any industry concerns, except to say they have not been officially discussed at board level.

"Chris has a contract until July next year and at this point the board has not discussed any problems," said Skews.

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