12 Aug 2016

Cooks tourism hoping Vai'maanga project can take off

From , 3:03 pm on 12 August 2016

A boost in visitor arrivals in the Cook Islands is threatening to stretch the country's accommodation facilities, with the industry pinning its hopes on the sale of a dawdling investment at Vai'maanga.

This year visitor arrivals were up 19 percent from last year for the period of January to June.

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation says Jetstar flights and increased interest from outside the region explain the rise in numbers.

The New Zealand-based Mirage Group has held a lease on the site for five years, with the aim of developing a 5-star hotel, but now the group says it's selling the project through Bayleys South Pacific.

It had earlier been developed by an Italian investor in the 1990s as a Sheraton Hotel but the project failed with allegations of mafia-related corruption.

The Cook Islands Government has committed to providing the infrastructure if the site can be developed, such as a road diversion.

The tourism corporation CEO Halatoa Fua told Alex Perrottet the government has learnt its lesson and its hoping a new investor will take up the challenge.

A beautiful beach in the Cook Islands.

A beautiful beach in the Cook Islands. Photo: Copyright: shalamov / 123RF Stock Photo