Cook Islands Launches Tourism Development Framework

Policy seen as 'pathway for sustainable tourism in this country'

By Rashneel Kumar 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 13, 2016) – Cook Islands Tourism Corporation has launched a development policy framework that is being eyed as a pathway for sustainable tourism in this country.

The plan was officially unveiled at Tamarind House Restaurant on Tuesday night, during the welcome function of the delegates attending the South Pacific Tourism Organisation meetings. They concluded yesterday.

Cook Islands Tourism also revealed their new sustainable tourism development goals.

The framework presents policies and related indicators that can structure a future national tourism strategy for the Cook Islands.

The focus is on a monitoring and evaluation framework featuring specific policy guidelines and a set of indicators to measure the progress made towards achieving more sustainable forms of tourism development.

The vision of the policy framework is that tourism advances the wellbeing of resident Cook Islanders in a way that is socially acceptable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Henry Puna, who is also the tourism minister, said as Cook Islanders, there was a natural fit between welcoming visitors to share their world and generating benefits from it. 

He said for more than 40 years, they have been engaged in tourism planning, strategy development and performance evaluation exercises.

AND THE common thread throughout, he said, had been this question of balance – navigating the tensions between economic opportunity and growth while protecting the natural surroundings. “

The links between the tourism sector and the future well-being of the people of the Cook Islands are growing wider and deeper as new generations emerge in an age of industry and service towards visitors,” Puna said. 
“Our elders gave birth to this industry but clearly, the future is in the hands of those growing up within it.” 

Tourism is the country’s key driver for economic development, contributing about 60 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP). 

Therefore, Puna said it was vital that they put the measures in place to build a stronger and more competitive sector that continues to engage and foster strong support from the local community, and positively contributes to their future sustainability.

“Unfortunately, we are faced with a much stronger sense of urgency than ever before.

“There are pressures at all ends of the equation – from the availability of human resources to increases in demands for services, from higher levels of visitor flows to the changing capacities for accommodation, and from the strains on the lagoon environment to infrastructure upgrades for waste and sanitation.

“We do not have the luxury of time, and ultimately, we remain vulnerable to the conditions of extreme weather and climate change.”

Puna said they hope to overcome these challenges through the Sustainable Tourism Development Policy Framework, which represents a starting point to their drive in maintaining the industry well into the future.

Cook Islands News
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