20 Sep 2016

Cooks tourism boom lifts government receipts

3:44 pm on 20 September 2016

The Cook Islands Government's operating balance is in the black on the back of a record growth in tourist arrivals.

Finance Minister Mark Brown said a surge in visitors had resulted in a $US5.1 million operating surplus.

Mr Brown said in the past three months alone, they had an additional 13,500 tourist arrivals, which he said was like having an additional peak month in the year.

He said the higher numbers helped lift spending on local businesses and so tax income rose dramatically.

The Cook Islands underwrites the flights by Air New Zealand from Sydney and Los Angeles.

Mr Brown said the amount of money they have had to payout this year is down substantially.

"Strong numbers coming from Australia, and also from North America, coupled with the low fuel prices that are factored into the subsidy, this year's payment has been significantly less than what we estimated and what we buudgeted for - less than half I would expect."