The Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council (CITIC) has recently launched the Mana Tiaki Eco Certification project, offering local businesses an opportunity to celebrate the things they are doing right when it comes to the environment, and a pathway to best practice for those wanting to do more.

The initiative is the next step in the journey to a fully sustainable tourism industry in the Cook Islands. It serves as a way for visitors to recognise businesses that are working on protecting the environment so they can choose options that minimise the environmental effect their visit will have.

The Cook Islands Tourism Industry has experienced a boom in recent years, creating jobs for many in the small island nation. With tourism as the main economic driver for the country, the community has welcomed this increase in visitor numbers with open arms but are aware of the damage caused by the influx of visitors and work to limit this as much as possible.

Aituta Beach, Cook Islands
Aituta Beach, Cook Islands

Kelvin Passfield is the Technical Director of Te Ipukarea Society (TIS), the local environmental NGO spearheading an initiative to curb the effect visitors are having on the natural environment. He commented, “It goes without saying however that with an increase in tourists, we see an increased strain on the environment and infrastructure.”

The Mana Tiaki Eco Certification project was launched in early April 2019 at a ceremony hosted jointly by TIS, the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council and government agency, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation.

“Whilst international eco certifications have been around for many years, some local businesses tried to engage with such schemes and came up against barriers. This Cook Islands-specific programme has been designed to reflect the unique opportunities and challenges of our islands, and to be cost-accessible to all businesses in the tourism industry here,” noted Luana Scowcroft, Project Implementation Manager of the certification.

“We have looked at international standards under the Mohawk Agreement and developed our own set of criteria which is more relevant to our Pacific context”.

Visitors to the Cook Islands are urged to support businesses that display the Mana Tiaki Eco Certification logo on their websites and premises when choosing accommodation, tours, restaurants and activities.

Halatoa Fua, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer commented, “As a nation we rejoice in welcoming visitors from around the world who come to experience our paradise islands. I applaud the Mana Tiaki Eco Certification which is helping to ensure we can continue to welcome guests for many generations to come.”

The following businesses have qualified for their Mana Tiaki Eco Certification:

  • Turama Pacific Travel GroupPalm Grove
  • Manuia Beach Resort
  • Etu Moana Beach Villas
  • Magic Reef Bungalows
  • Kia Orana Villas
  • Aro’a Beachside Inn
  • Ariki Holidays
  • White House Apartments
  • Pacific Resort Rarotonga
  • Sands Villas Rarotonga
  • Arcadia Retreat Rarotonga
  • Muri Beach Club Hotel
  • Cook Islands Holiday Villas

For more information on the Cook Islands go to www.cookislands.travel.

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