Since opening its borders to New Zealand in January, the Cook Islands has initiated steps to protect its natural environment for the long-term sustainability of tourism in the Cook Islands.
As part of its approach towards sustainable tourism, in this edition the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation highlight’s three initiatives that addresses key elements of the industry and community level as part of its approach towards sustainable tourism.
Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is soon to launch their new business partnership programme, with a focus on providing quality benchmark industry standards. The intention is to align these standards with the universally recognised Global Sustainable Tourism Council destination criteria. These guidelines will include the Mana Tiaki Eco-Certification – being environmental standards that will assist the industry in protecting and conserving the natural environment through their operations.
Muri Beach and lagoon is a prime attraction for visitors to Rarotonga. In recent years there has been a focus on managing the overgrowth of algae in the lagoon, taking away the alluring qualities of the lagoon for visitors. As a way to address this issue, one of the long-term solutions is the need to plant vetiver grass throughout streams that feed into the Muri Lagoon. A collaboration between Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and the Ministry of Marine Resources has been formalised to supply the Vetiver grass which will be planted alongside these streams to help reduce excess sediments that end up into the lagoon after heavy rainfall. Initial works between the Ministry of Marine Resources and the Muri Community Care group have completed some trial grass planting with success. Cook Islands Tourism is supporting the next phase.
With a fragile island environment where water is scarce and their lagoon the jewel in their crown; the island of Aitutaki was identified for the installation of eco-friendly toilets. The project was funded by GEF in partnership with the National Environment Services under the Ridge to Reef Programme in collaboration with Cook Islands Tourism. These toilets were set up in areas that are regularly visited by locals and visitors and also areas where there is limited to zero access to fresh water. These eco toilets are environmentally friendly and designed to work without the need for water. A tablet is deposited into the toilet which breaks down the waste into a liquid form and the liquid can be used for fertilizer for agriculture purposes. 10 eco toilets have been installed in various locations on the island of Aitutaki. The success of this pilot project will see an expansion of eco-toilets across other fragile islands in the Cook Islands.
Photo Credit: Cook Islands | Quality Assurance
Distribution Map of the Aitutaki Eco Toilets was provided by the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation.