10 Oct 2003

Cook Islands tourist operator calls for moratorium on building on Aitutaki

12:50 pm on 10 October 2003

One of the Cook Island's tourism pioneers says he wants a building moratorium put in place on Aitutaki.

Tour operator Michael Henry says the island is already at the extreme limits of sustainability, both environmentally and socially.

He is calling for the captain cook hotel development on the atoll to be scrapped and a moratorium on all building to be put in place.

"We haven't kept pace with the other things you would expect to keep up, the infrastructure like solid and liquid waste disposal, like our water supply. At the moment we're using the maximum we have available. So there are a whole lot of things that have to happen to keep pace with development without additional development like the Captain Cook Hotel."

Others in the Cook Islands say a halt to tourist development is premature and illfounded.

Chamber of Commerce president Ewan Smith says there is room for the industry to expand, as long as it is done in a planned and sustainable way.

Everybody generally agrees that tourism growth should be planned. I'm not so sure that everybody would share the view that it should be capped as such. There are still lots of people in the country who have yet to take up the opportunity to enter into the industry and I'm sure that they would. So I don't think people within the industry can turn round and say now we're in that's it because that has the effect of denying entry into the industry to other people.

Mr Smith says that appropriate studies need to be carried out before people start calling for a cap on development.

He says that while environmental issues are important , the tourism industry also needs to ensure there are enough human resources behind it.