Travel Professor – Cook Islands and Sustainable Tourism

This is Rarotonga, the biggest of 15
islands that comprise Cook Islands. Cook Islands is a nation in free association
with New Zealand. This means that Cook Islanders have a New
Zealand citizenship, they use New Zealand Dollars, are defended by New Zealand forces,
but autonomous in most of the internal and foreign affairs. The population of
Cook Islands is about 21,000 people and tourism is very important for Cook
Islands. In 2016 there were 146,000 visitors that came to
Cook Islands, and that is 17 percent growth compared to 2015. Considering the
size of Cook Islands, one may question: is this development sustainable?
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the current
generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs. Sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its
current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the
needs of the visitors the industry the environment and host communities. In
Cook Islands tourism is the major provider of revenue for the nation, it
helps fund public services, provide jobs and business opportunities. Environmental
impacts are felt through the increase in construction, especially along the
coastal areas, increase in waste and increase in consumption of water,
electricity and fuel. Also, the recent algae blooms in lagoons are indirectly
attributed to growth of tourism. Social impacts are felt through contribution of
tourism to development of individualistic consumer society,
cultural practices are getting lost or becoming a show, an entertainment for
tourism losing its authentic meaning. While tourism
undoubtedly contributed to the prosperity of Cook Islands, it has to be
planned and managed carefully to ensure preservation of nature and culture for
the future generations.

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