Arrivals for the 2016/17 financial year totaled 155,230.
The Cook Islands Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update report, which has been approved by finance minister Mark Brown, said strong growth in tourist arrivals in 2016/17 had ensured tourism remained the focal point of economic activity in the Cook Islands.
After contracting by 0.9 per cent in 2014/15, the tourism market grew by 11 per cent in 2015/16 and was expected to achieve further growth of 12.8 per cent in 2016/17.
However, year-end results for 2016/17 exceeded the forecast to reach 14.9 per cent.
Growth was expected across all markets in 2017/18, but actual arrivals to October last year came in slightly lower than expected for the New Zealand market.
However, growth in other markets has ensured that the New Zealand slowdown has not had a significant impact.
“Actual arrivals in 2016/17 totaled 155,230 up from the 135,000 seen in 2015/16. The steep growth in arrivals throughout 2016 and early 2017 has continued for a longer period of time than previously anticipated,” the report said.
“This growth is expected to level out during 2017-18, with more sustainable growth expected going forward.”
Brown told CINews the increasing number of tourists visiting the country was one of the main factors behind the rise in taxation revenue.
“Taxation revenue gives us indication of economic performance and anecdotally, we have had some really good numbers coming through, so we expect another record year of tourism for this financial year. We have estimated 160,000 tourists will come through this year,” he said.
“Every person that comes is a consumer who spends money and it adds to the economy and therefore adds to the government’s revenue.
“We are quite positive about the outlook for the next quarters. Already the Christmas and New Year period, which is normally the downtime for our tourism industry, has been very, very busy.”
“I think for us this calendar year, it will be another big year economically with tourism and continued construction that is taking place.
“It is an indication things are really moving and humming along.”