15 Feb 2011

Cook Islands Tourism Corp says number of foreign workers not growing

6:23 am on 15 February 2011

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is disputing whether there's a problem with an increasing number of foreign workers entering the country.

Late last year the Prime Minister Henry Puna announced a drive to create 1,900 new jobs in the next four years by developing tourism and the wider economy.

The announcement sparked concerns that more cheap foreign workers would be brought in because the Cook Islands does not have the labour force to fill the jobs.

The Tourism Minister Teina Bishop says he's not familiar with the exact number of foreign workers, but says he's aware it's increasing and may need to be restricted.

But the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation chief executive, Carmel Beattie, says the numbers are not growing, and those that are there are needed.

"While we are actually working on education programmes and training our local Cook Islands people, there are other people that have come in to give advice and training to others. But also to fill those gaps while the industry is growing but our education processes need to catch up to that."

Carmel Beattie from the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation