RAROTONGA, 27 FEBRUARY 2017 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) —An increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting the Cook Islands could result in a booming new market for the nation in the near future.

This was revealed by New Zealand Tourism Research Institute representative Simon Milne at the Tourism Corporations Global Breakfast Update at the Rarotongan Resort last week.


Milne said the Chinese market was was a small but growing market in the Pacific.

Milne said research had found that 32 per cent of Chinese tourists found out about the Cook Islands through social media compared, to eight per cent in the case of visitors from other countries.

Around 54 per cent of other visitors “discovered” the country through friends and family and 40 per cent through previous visits, while 16 per cent of Chinese found out about the Cook Islands through travel books and 13 per cent through the official Cook Islands travel website.

“Expenditure per person per day reveals that other visitors spend 39 per cent of their income on accommodation, 31 per cent on restaurants, cafes, bars and 13 per cent on shopping,” he said.

“An average Chinese expenditure on accommodation is around 99 per cent with 38 per cent on restaurants, bars, cafes and 24 per cent on shopping.”

Milne said Chinese visitors were attracted to the Cook Islands by the environment and climate (33 per cent) local people (37.5 per cent) and activities and attractions (41.7 per cent).

Local people were a key element of Cook Islands tourism in general and were important to the industry, he added.

On the downside, Chinese visitors didn’t like stray animals, mosquitoes and the rubbish and the lack of care for the natural environment.

He said younger Chinese tourists tended to visit the Cook Islands more than older groups.

Weddings are another important component of the local tourist industry with around 10,811 wedding visitors over 2015- 2016.

He said the total economic impact was $23,362,571 (US$16,811,192.01), compared to 2014-2015 with 12,177 wedding visitors and a total economic impact of $21,431,520(US$15,421,868).

“For weddings people rely heavily on information from friends and relatives and they spend less time in the Cook Islands.”

Focusing on a four-year period, he said 41 per cent of the wedding visitors between 2012 -2016 had suggested a need for the Cook Islands to improve infrastructure, activities and transport.

However, it was important for the country to maximise visitor spend, create tourism awareness within government agencies and among local communities and network opportunities for local businesses. It was also vital to increase tourist numbers.

“Sustainability is important in the tourism industry from now, and focusing on maximising our tourist numbers is getting less important.

The Global Breakfast Updates were based on quarterly overviews of the Tourism Corporation’s key activities.

The update also saw presentations from the director of sales and marketing, Karla Eggleton, who spoke on the importance of online updates, their plans in the digital space and current status.

Eggelton said the corporation had embarked on three programmes that included discovering a brand, marketing the brand and optimising it.

This year, optimising the brand “Love a little paradise’’ will be the focus of a four-month effort. Optimisation will include developing a paid digital media plan to reach targets in Australia and New Zealand.

“Once a partner is chosen and media plan is developed for example creative banners will be tailored to fill media plans,” Eggelton said….PACNEWS [/restrict]