Business Forum Looks To Improve Cook Islands Tourism

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Various stakeholders take part in Aitutaki meeting

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 28, 2016) – In a bid to improve the tourism industry, the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation engage with various stakeholders associated with the business in a forum it will host on Aitutaki tomorrow.

The half-day stakeholders’ forum at Aitutaki Game Fishing Club will coincide with the launch of the corporation’s Kia Orana Values Project later in the evening at the night market.

Cook Islands Tourism director of destination development Metua Vaiimene said the stakeholders’ forum would be attended by those involved in the industry including traditional and community leaders and members of the public.

He said the forum was part of the biannual affair which started in 2014. This year’s forum will culminate with the Rarotonga Summit to be held next week.

Vaiimene said the forum was important in recognising areas of concern and in helping the tourism to make better decisions regarding the industry in the future.

The last forum held two years ago had enabled the Tourism Corporation to improve on some areas and create initiatives such as the Kia Orana Values Project.

"In 2014 when we revived the forum, we decided to embark on this and hold such forums every two years to get all the decision makers in a room and discuss ways to improve the industry.

"We will have panel discussions with the stakeholders and the decision makers as well as provide opportunity to the members of the public to voice their opinion about issues concerning tourism."

The Aitutaki forum which will begin with registration at 8.30am, will feature industry stalwart Thomas Koteka as the keynote speaker. He will talk on sustainable tourism.

This will be followed by two panel discussions on sanitation/water quality, lagoon health/lessons learnt, water conservation, cultural heritage, land tour opportunities and event development.

"We need to improve on our communication so that people understand what we are doing at Cook Islands Tourism, where we fit in the whole picture - and that’s one of the great things we have achieved since that forum in 2014," Vaiimene said.

"We have improved on our communication. We now have a weekly newsletter that goes out to industry partners and we have series of meetings throughout the year keeping our stakeholders up to date on what we are doing. We engage much better now with the local media on our initiatives."

Meanwhile the Kia Orana Values Project launch later in the evening will also be accompanied by much fanfare.

The event will include the screening of Aitutaki’s first Kia Orana commercial as well as Upoko Kanga, Aitutaki’s version of the infamous Katu Kanga.

The Kia Orana Values Project provides tools and resources to improve standards within the tourism industry as well as communicate effectively to the public the work and role of the corporation in terms of destination development.

The project is about reviving the Kia Orana spirit not only to strengthen its cultural significance but also to sharpen up the unique selling point of the Cook Islands.

Vaiimene said Tourism was hoping to improve service delivery in all sectors associated with the industry through the launch of Kia Orana Values Project.

Tourism Cook Islands launch its Kia Orana Customer Service programme in Aitutaki soon.

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