27 Feb 2012

Cook Islands tourism says airline subsidy is necessary and worthwhile

7:12 pm on 27 February 2012

Cook Islands Tourism officials say the more than ten million US dollars subsidy paid by the government to Air New Zealand should be viewed as a national strategic asset.

The money covers any shortfall in earnings on flights linking Rarotonga with Los Angeles and Sydney.

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation says it is the key to ensuring an inflow of tourists across the year while making sure the country does not solely rely on the New Zealand market.

And the Corporation says it means the Cook Islands is investing in a share of the airline without the additional concerns of attempting to run its own service.

Last week the government agreed to increase the subsidy by about 50 percent.

The Corporation's chief executive, Carmel Beattie, and chair, Ewan Smith, say while this will spark a great deal of public debate, it is a necessary and worthwhile investment.