26 Jan 2005

Cook Islands plans new strategic direction for tourism industry

2:23 pm on 26 January 2005

The Cook Islands is launching a new tourism master plan which proposes changing the direction of the industry, the country's number one earner.

There would be a shift from the mass market selling of sun and sand to an emphasis on a boutique location featuring local people and historic places, or what is known as Geo-tourism.

A public meeting is being held tonight to discuss the plan, the first update in fourteen years.

Jason Brown reports from Rarotonga.

"Update authors say that planned hotel projects will add to growing environmental problems from more than 80,000 tourists a year. Lead author, Dr Peter Phillips - a New Zealand consultant, is instead calling for new strategies. He says the Cook Islands could become the second island in the world to adopt tourism concepts being promoted by the National Geographic society. Geotourism in the Cooks would see emphasis placed on local people and historic places rather than trying to compete in mass market tourism with other much bigger destinations."