A statement released by London-based leading data and analytics company, GlobalData show Chinese tourists made 136.5 million outbound trips, representing a total outbound tourist expenditure of about $315 billion last year.
The Cook Islands recorded only 2130 Asian visitors which includes Chinese, from the total of 161,362 people who visited the country last year.
Difficult access to the Cook Islands could be one of the main reasons for the low number of Chinese visitors, from the massive number who traveled to international destinations last year, coming to this country.
Cook Islands Tourism director of sales and marketing Karla Eggelton said there were currently more than 50 flights a week to Auckland, New Zealand, across various hubs and airlines in China.
However she said visa issues continued, with some progress around the ability to access New Zealand transit visas to bona fide Cook Islands visitors.
“Direct access, and point-to-point services are always the preferred approach by destinations; but airline economics, legalities and logistics have a big part to play in determining these services,” Eggelton said.
She said right now for the Cook Islands, the corporation’s focus continues to be on the “free independent traveller” looking for “connected” experiences. “The approach is looking for seasonal travel, in particular the summer months, November to May, with a focus on Chinese New Year travel,” Eggelton said.
“We take a cautious approach to the Chinese market as we are mindful of expectations and our ability to service these needs.
“This coupled with access challenges, (means) the Chinese market will remain a small emerging source of visitors for the foreseeable future.”
Suggestions have been made regarding the possibility of opening up new airline routes which could allow easier access to the Chinese tourists intending to visit the Cook Islands.
“In terms of the key routes for the Cook Islands, Los Angeles and Sydney continue to be the two underwritten services approved by the Cook Islands government,” said Cook Islands Tourism chief executive officer Halatoa Fua.
“Any other routes outside these two gateways (Los Angeles and Sydney) will be based on the commercial interest of the airlines.”