Direct Sydney to Rarotonga flights herald breakthrough year for Cook Islands tourism
With nonstop Sydney-Rarotonga flights launching year round from July, the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation expects to welcome a lot more Australians from 2011.
The Cook Islands government has entered a three year partnership with Air New Zealand to operate a B767 direct from Sydney on a weekly, year round basis from Tuesday 5 July. The launch follows the success of a four month trial last year.
Carmel Beattie, CEO of Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, says: "Watch out for the Cook Islands becoming the hot new South Pacific destination once Australians discover how easy it is to reach this truly authentic island paradise.
"They will love the warmth and accessibility of the unique Cook Islands Maori culture and fabulous range of holiday experiences on Rarotonga and beyond. We expect Australians will want to explore the family of islands as they are already the largest market for the island of Aitutaki."
She adds: "Tourism provides 75% of the Cook Islands GDP and this new service, along with the strength of the Australian dollar against the islands' NZ dollar currency, will have a major impact on the country's economy and tourism growth opportunities."
The direct service will be operated by a 234 seat Boeing 767-300 with a flight time of six hours from Sydney and seven hours 15 minutes from Rarotonga.
Flights will depart Sydney on Tuesdays at 9pm arriving in Rarotonga at 7am on the same day, crossing the International Date Line. Return flights depart Rarotonga on Monday at 4.35pm arriving in Sydney at 7.50pm Tuesday.
At the very centre of the Polynesian triangle, the Cook Islands consist of 15 islands scattered over some 2 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. It is bordered to the west by Tokelau, the Samoas and Nuie and to the east by Tahiti and French Polynesia.
Flights on the weekly direct services are now on sale. This new service adds to the already daily connections to Cook Islands from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that go via Auckland.