China and 10 Pacific island countries approved cooperation on tourism and transportation, at the China-Pacific Islands Countries Programme of Action on Economic Development and Cooperation in Apia, Samoa this week.
The countries have agreed to develop tourism products such as cruise liners sailing from China to the region.
Through bilateral consultations, they will also explore ways to advance expansion of air services between China and the Pacific island countries.
Metua Vaiimene, the destination development director at Cook Islands Tourism, said cruise liner and air access development was a regional approach.
However the Chinese tourism market was quite small, and while they saw potential for more tourists, they were approaching it “very slowly and very carefully”.
“It’s a market that needs to be properly understood before we can look for any growth out of that market,” Vaiimene said.
They had an agreement with China to bring visitors using charter flights, but this had not yet been explored.
At the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown acknowledged China’s contributions to the economic transformation of the Cook Islands over the past 20 years.