9 Oct 2003

Cook Islands tourism expansion queried

4:57 pm on 9 October 2003

One of the Cook Islands tourism pioneers says industry development should be stopped before it gets out of control.

Tour operator and accommodator Michael Henry says that Aitutaki is already at the extreme limits of sustainability, both environmentally and socially.

He is calling for plans for a major hotel development on the atoll to be scrapped.

This is the first time that an Aitutaki tourism industry leader has publicly expressed concern at the impact of tourism.

Last December, calls for a moratorium on the main island of Rarotonga were supported by Robert Skews, the chairman of the Tourism Council of the South Pacific.

However Prime Minister Dr Robert Woonton says tourism must go ahead.

Dr Woonton says that it is up to building and environmental authorities to ensure the impact of tourism is properly managed.