The submission was presented to Parliament earlier this month and the country's Minister of Tourism, Wilkie Rasmussen, announced the Government's endorsement in Rarotonga this morning.

"As industries around the world feel the weight of the current economic global recession and the international effects of slowing economies and cautious consumers, the Cook Islands is seeing local businesses grow, new businesses open and offshore investment increase," he says.

Tourism constitutes 67 per cent of the Cook Islands GDP and its tourism industry is reporting sustained forward bookings with many areas reporting growth.

New operators are opening businesses and employing more people at a time where international reports tell of business closures and rising unemployment.

"Everyone is tired of hearing about the global economic doom and gloom. Travellers are now being given the opportunity to escape the recession by coming to a country where it doesn't exist," says Minister Rasmussen.

Air New Zealand Deputy CEO, Norm Thompson, in Rarotonga for the announcement, says tourism is a powerful stimulus for an economy, especially that of an island nation.

"As the adopted national carrier to the Cook Islands for more than 30 years, Air New Zealand is committed to helping drive tourism for the Cook Islands.

"We are seeing strong interest and growth in bookings for flights to the Cook Islands despite slow-downs in other markets. It is currently Air New Zealand's number one Pacific island destination.

"Even in these tough economic times, when customers are more cautious, we are proud to be part of the driving force for the Cook Islands tourism and economy.

"Today, Air New Zealand Holidays has launched a new online feature at http://www.airnewzealand.com/ enabling customers to see more of the Cook Islands. We have been working closely with Air Rarotonga to enable people to travel from Rarotonga to Aitutaki for a special Recession Free price of NZ$99 per person each way," says Mr Thompson.

So for those who are feeling the stress of the recession and want to escape, unwind and not hear a peep about the "R" word, the Cook Islands is the ultimate island paradise.

For more information about the world's first recession free oasis, visit http://www.recessionfreeoasis.com/.

With Air New Zealand's direct flights from Auckland and Los Angeles, the Cook Islands is an accessible place to escape on a sundrenched beach, hike through a jungle filled with exotic flora and fauna, or simply snorkel in an azure lagoon.


Ends

Contacts

Air New Zealand: ph +64 (0) 9 336 2761, affairs.public@airnz.co.nz
Cook Islands Tourism: ph + 682 29435, headoffice@cook-islands.com


Notes to Editor

The Cook Islands, which is formed by 15 small islands scattered over two million square kilometers in the South Pacific Ocean, is home to 21,000 people. The two main islands are Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

  • The official languages are Cook Islands Maori and English
  • On any given day the typical ratio of tourists to Cook Islands residents is 5:1
  • The islands enjoy an average of 2,200 sunshine hours each year
  • Currency is the New Zealand Dollar


How to get there:

Rarotonga is the only island in the Cook Islands with an international airport, so this is where you enter the Cook Islands.

Air New Zealand flies direct to the Cook Islands from Auckland and Los Angeles with connecting services from Australia and London.

Price
(One way per person)
New Zealand
Auckland - Rarotonga NZ$289*
Wellington - Rarotonga NZ$369*
Christchurch - Rarotonga NZ$369*
USA
Los Angeles - Rarotonga US$622*
Australia
Sydney - Rarotonga (via Auckland) AU$487*
Brisbane - Rarotonga (via Auckland) AU$481*
Melbourne - Rarotonga (via Auckland) AU$511*
Perth - Rarotonga (via Auckland) AU$835*
Cairns - Rarotonga (via Auckland) AU$740*
Adelaide - Rarotonga (via Auckland) AU$590*


*Lead-in airfares, one way, per person, inclusive of taxes


Fly to Aitutaki for $99

Launching today, you can now travel to Aitutaki for a special introductory price of NZ$99 per person each way when booking your Aitutaki holiday through the Air New Zealand Holidays website at http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/ and http://www.airnewzealand.com.au/ before 31 May 2009, enabling customers to easily book their holiday packages to Rarotonga, Aitutaki or staying at both Cook Islands destinations.