The online survey, which is available in Cook Islands Maori and English, asks a mixture of questions about the perceived economic benefits of tourism and the how the community feels about the effect of tourism on the environment and culture.
Questions are also asked about tourism and information available, and the overall attitudes of people towards the industry.
Metua Vaiimene, the corporation’s destination development director, said it was important that they took the views of the community onboard as well as their attitude towards tourism.
“We are seeing so many changes and so much growth in development of tourism at this time that it is even more important that we put our finger on the pulse when it comes to the sentiment and mood of the community,” Vaiimene said.
“Therefore it’s important that we take the views of the community so that we – the community, government and the industry – can better grow the industry together.”
Vaiimene said the survey was the first of its kind in the Pacific.
“You will find these kinds of surveys in matured tourism destinations in the developed world but we are spearheading it in terms of Pacific region. One of the reasons we want to pursue it is because it hasn’t happened often where the community gets to have their say on tourism. It’s usually tourists, or businesses, who are being surveyed.”
Vaiimene also hopes the survey which will run from September 25 until November 25 give the community some sense of ownership of the tourism industry.
“We do need the community to work for tourism but we also need tourism to work for the community. And that’s how we will be able to build these bridges if we really, truly understand what people feel and what people think.”
From the data collected from this survey, the Cook Islands Tourism is hoping to address some key issues that are affecting the industry.
It will also help guide the development of tourism strategies and policies, and identify gaps in stakeholder management that need to be addressed by the sector.
The survey will gain an in-depth understanding of how the host communities feel about the leading industry in the Cook Islands.
Vaiimene said they could also use the findings to put pressure on government departments and other agencies to address some of the issues affecting the industry.
“Whether that’s business issues or labour issues, we can use the data that we got from the survey and say ‘these are important issues for the community, we need you to be addressing these different issues’,” he said.
“We will wait and see what exactly we will get out of the survey but there are always opportunities to mine the data so that we can come up with lists of like top five concerns and top five opportunities.
“This kind of data is important when we are doing our work around destination advocacy which is advocating for tourism related issues with government and private sector.”
The survey was formulated in conjunction with the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute and Auckland University of Technology.
Meanwhile to encourage participation, weekly draws will be made from the responses received and participants will go into a draw to win Bluesky vouchers worth $20 each. A final draw will be made from all those who took part in the survey to win a top-of-the-range smart phone.