COOK ISLANDS DECLARED ‘RECESSION FREE OASIS’

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Tourism promotion: Cooks opts out of economic downturn

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 18, 2009) – Government today announced that the Cook Islands has officially decided not to take part in the worldwide recession, making it the world’s first Recession Free Oasis.

Tourism Minister Wilkie Rasmussen is making this proclamation at a press conference attended by about 20 overseas journalists and media people.

"As industries around the world feel the weight of the current economic global recession and the international effects of slowing economies and cautious consumers, the Cook Islands is seeing local businesses grow, new businesses open and offshore investment has increased," he says.

Tourism constitutes 67 percent of the Cook Islands GDP and its tourism industry is reporting sustained forward bookings with many areas reporting growth.

New operators are opening businesses and employing more people at a time when international reports tell of business closures and rising unemployment.

"Everyone is tired of hearing about the doom and glow that surround the economic situation. Travellers are now being given the opportunity to escape the recession by going to a country where it doesn’t exist," says Minister Rasmussen.

The marketing campaign is a joint venture with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Deputy CEO, Norm Thompson, says that tourism is a powerful stimulus for an economy and as the main airline Air New Zealand is committed to helping drive that tourism for the Cook Islands.

"We are seeing strong interest and growth in bookings for flights to the Cook Islands. It is currently Air New Zealand’s number one Pacific island destination.

"Today Air New Zealand Holidays has launched a new online feature enabling customers to see more of the Cook Islands for just $1. We have been working closely with Air Rarotonga to enable people to travel to Aitutaki for a special introductory price of $1 per person each way."

So for Kiwis and others around the world who are feeling the stress of the recession and want to escape, unwind and not hear a peep about the "R" word, the Cook Islands is the ultimate island paradise.

Publicity tied to the Recession Free Oasis campaign says Air New Zealand’s direct flights from Auckland and Los Angeles make the Cook Islands an ideal and accessible place to escape on a sundrenched beach, hike through a jungle filled with exotic flora and fauna, or simply snorkel in an azure lagoon.

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