Locals dominate tourism business

Thursday January 03, 2019 Written by Published in Local

A casual survey conducted by the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council has found 83 per cent of the tourism businesses operating from the main road on Rarotonga are owned by Cook Islanders.


Council president Sue Fletcher-Vea said the survey was conducted in response to an incorrect perception that foreigners own the majority of tourism businesses in the country.

Fletcher-Vea said the survey which was “very much nonscientific”, took note of frontline tourism businesses operating along the main road from Avatiu harbour to Bamboo Jacks (in an anticlockwise direction).

She said the survey took into account all businesses that had signs along the main road. 

“We were surprised and absolutely pleased to find that 83 per cent of those businesses on the main ring road with sign posts are owned by Cook Islanders, and only 17 per cent are foreign owned,” Fletcher-Vea said.

“We left out the main retail centre between Bamboo Jacks and Avatiu harbour and Punanga Nui area and we are talking about pearl shops, souvenir shops, cafes, and supporting businesses such as wedding planning, taxis, transport operators and construction companies which are related to tourism. They are mostly owned by the Cook Islanders, we estimate about 90 per cent is locally owned.”

“We didn’t take into consideration any of the backroad businesses which is probably where the holiday homes are, and we estimate most of them would be owned by local Cook Islanders.

“And of course the Pa Enua; we didn’t survey them and we know that about 90 per cent of the tourism businesses in the outer islands are owned by Cook Islanders.”

Fletcher-Vea said the council had passed the result of their survey to the relevant government departments.

She said the information could come in handy when making decisions about the industry in regards to foreign investment.

“We actually conducted a survey to gauge the level of ownership in tourism with respect to how many Cook Islanders are actually business owners as opposed to foreigners.

“The decision to do a survey came about because there is quite a lot of - I guess, the wrong kind of information or perception as to how much our local people are actually involved in tourism in terms of ownership, amongst government and organisations like BTIB, Immigration, probably the Office of the Prime Minister and those people who make decisions for tourism.

“Cook Islanders here are very much involved in tourism business and we’d just like to change some of the perception that is out there.

“It’s great that Cook Islands people here are getting a piece of the pie, which is not the case with most of our Pacific neighbours.”

Last week, Cook Islands Tourism revealed a survey had found that an overwhelming number of Cook Islanders feel tourism is good for the country.

The preliminary results from the “Community Attitudes Towards Tourism Survey”, which closed this month, show 80 per cent of Cook Islanders value the industry which drives the local economy.

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