6 Feb 2004

2003 record year for tourism in Fiji, and Cook Islands

9:43 am on 6 February 2004

Fiji has reported its best ever year for tourism, with a record breaking 426-thousand visitors arriving in 2003.

The previous highest figure was 409-thousand in 1999.

Visitors from New Zealand also reached a new record of 75-thousand in 2003, compared with 72-thousand in 1999.

The Tourism Minister, Pita Nacuva, says Fiji had been written off as a tourist destination after the 2000 coup when visitor numbers crashed dramatically.

But, he says, the industry had made a remarkable recovery with the help of New Zealand and other travel agents.

And it's been a record year for tourism numbers in the Cook Islands, with 2003 seeing an all-time high of over 78 thousand visitors.

While New Zealand led the way in tourist numbers, significant numbers also arrived from Europe, Australia and USA.

The months of September, October and July saw the most tourists visiting the Cook Islands during 2003.