18 Dec 2013

Cooks tourism leader says subsidised Air New Zealand flights vital

3:09 pm on 18 December 2013

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation says it's a sound investment for the government to guarantee Air New Zealand a profit on the Los Angeles to Rarotonga flight, as long-haul access is essential to the tourism industry.

The government is currently negotiating a new contract with Air New Zealand, which will continue to provide flights to Rarotonga from Los Angeles and Sydney.

It's likely the agreement will require the government to cover the costs, and guarantee the airline a profit, on both routes.

Last year, both routes combined cost the government about 9.5 million dollars, and this cost is expected to increase under the new contract.

The chairman of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, Ewan Smith, says long haul air access is necessary to the country's tourism industry, as it delivers visitors year round.

"Our industry here could not survive on just sharp seasonal visitor arrival from the Southern Hemisphere alone. It was built in the early 80's on year-round access, including the Northern hemisphere and that's what's been driving quite a lot of the investment here, and so it's essential that it continues."

The chairman of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, Ewan Smith.