Covid-19: Cook Islands holiday bookings slow ahead of January 14 travel bubble
Bookings for holidays in the Cook Islands are trickling in slowly as tourism operators aim to make the most of what is usually a slow-period in January, when quarantine-free travel resumes with New Zealand.
Cook Islands travel bubble with New Zealand resumes on January 14, 2022 (NZT), provided travellers meet certain requirements.
Only fully vaccinated travellers, from the age of 12 up, will be allowed in, with a Covid-19 test required 72 hours before departure.
Aitutaki tourism operators are ready to welcome New Zealand visitors back after the Cook Islands reopened its borders.
Travellers must show proof of a negative test result as they depart New Zealand and on arrival in the Cooks, though no further test is required upon arrival.
* Covid-19: Cook Islands travel bubble opens on January 13, but not to under-12s
* Covid-19: Cook Islands tourism operators frustrated with new travel policy
* Covid-19: No Cook Islands travel without vaccine, zero Covid cases in NZ for 14 days
“It’s a terrible time to reopen. Mid-January to April is the worst time of the year for our tourism industry, but borders are reopening, and we aim to make the most of it,” Crocombe said.
The tourism-reliant Pacific nation has had a turbulent 20 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Crocombe said after at least two years of closures and uncertainty, tourism operators were looking to push through a traditionally low period of travel.
Holiday bookings were slow, and flights slowly starting to fill up, he said.
“The industry has been pushed to breaking point, and it would take five to 10 years for the country to climb out from this.
“We know a lot of people are a bit gun-shy now because of the constant travel pauses, but we expect things to start picking up slowly. It’s only just been a week after the announcement of reopening.”
Travel to Aitutaki would be permitted, with the only requirement being that travellers undergo a rapid antigen test before boarding their flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. A further test may be required on Aitutaki.
New Zealanders would be the only foreigners allowed to travel to the Pacific Island nation at this time, although Australians may be admitted later on.
“Tourism is everything to us, and right now the only holiday destination open to New Zealand is the Cook Island. So, gather your friends, your neighbours, book in those holidays and come to Rarotonga.”
In announcing the reopening, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said the utmost care was taken in deciding to open for travel.
The country had vaccinated 98 per cent of its eligible population above the age of 12, and plans were under way for booster shots for the 40+ age group and children’s vaccinations next year.
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