Cook Islands To Welcome NZ Visitors With Open Arms
Cook Islanders are “waiting with open arms and big smiles” to greet their first visitors in over a year, said the General Manager of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation for Australasia, Graeme West.
Responding to today’s announcement that quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands was starting on 17 May, Mr West said this was long-awaited and very exciting news.
He said that visitor numbers to the Cook Islands “hit zero” when borders were closed in March 2020. “Because tourism is the mainstay of our economy, this has caused significant financial hardship for many people,” he said. ”We are looking forward with much anticipation to welcoming Kiwis back to our beautiful islands.”
Noting that New Zealanders comprise two-thirds of all visitors to the Cook Islands, Mr West said there was a special relationship between the two countries. “Kiwis are always welcomed very warmly and I think this will be even more evident as Kiwis return to our tropical paradise. We’ll be doing everything possible to ensure people have a fantastic holiday. We’re ready to go and to showcase everything that we’re renowned for - our warm tropical weather, stunning natural beauty, friendliness and hospitality and our great food.”
The Cook Islands is very fortunate to have remained COVID-19 free and has made the health and wellbeing of its citizens its top priority. Mr West said the safety and wellbeing of visitors was also being taken very seriously.
Contact tracing will play an important part in ensuring that quarantine free travel continues; and visitors will be encouraged to use Cooksafe and Cooksafe+ to assist. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation has also produced a Cook Islands Promise, a short list of what is needed to keep locals and visitors safe. Information on this promise and FAQs detailing what travellers need to know before departing NZ can be found on www.cookislands.travel
The new rules mean that people who have been resident in NZ for the previous 14 days can travel to Rarotonga and return home without having to isolate or quarantine at either end of their trip. This travel corridor is only open between NZ and the Cook Islands, and the Cook Islands maritime border remains closed.