January shows downturn in visitor arrivals

Monday March 12, 2018 Written by Published in Economy

After welcoming a record number of visitors to the Cook Islands last year, the tourism industry noted a decline in the visitor arrivals for the opening month of the year.


Visitor arrivals for January this year was five per cent lower than the total arrivals for the same period in 2017.

In January last year, a total of 9976 visitors visited our shores compared to 9527 in January this year.

Cook Islands’ top tourism market, New Zealand, recorded a huge decline from 5139 visitors last year to 4700 this year.

Australia, USA, Europe/UK, Canada and the Asian markets also recorded a decline from last year.

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation chief executive officer Halatoa Fua said the corporation had anticipated that the strong growth seen in the last two years would slow down.

He said they had also identified stronger competition in their short haul markets this year, adding the visitor arrivals were still stronger than two years ago.

The corporation, he said, was monitoring the situation closely and putting stronger focus in its tactical or short term activity, which will benefit the market in the long term.

“The New Zealand and Australian markets are flat against last year, with majority of the decrease from the Northern Hemisphere markets,” Fua said.

“In terms of the North American market and the once-weekly flight from Los Angeles, which is a relatively small base of arrivals, variations by month can tend to fluctuate more than larger markets.”

However, the trend from North America remains strong.

From July, 2017 through January, 2018, arrivals are up 23 per cent for the financial year, and the forward projections indicate strong growth overall for 2018, Fua said.

It was also pleasing to see a turnaround in the UK market, despite uncertainties in that market, he added. So far in the 2017/18 financial year, the UK market is up by six per cent.

“The corporation’s international offices are engaging heavily to drive sales and educating the travel trade, while head office embarks on its digital marketing strategies.”

Fua said they were expecting a similar result in visitor arrivals for last month, traditionally the slowest month of the year for Cook Islands tourism.

“We must be conscious that we had massive growth from New Zealand last January and February over the previous year – increases of over 1000 Kiwis in both those months,” he said.. That said, given the sizeable increase we have enjoyed in the last two years, we expect growth to be modest.”

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