Covid 19 coronavirus Cook Islands travel bubble: Travel agent sees 4000% surge in searches

Kiwis are already rushing to snap up holiday packages and flights to the Cook Islands after a much-anticipated travel bubble was officially announced.

Travel group Flight Centre has recorded a huge surge of interest on its website overnight – while resorts in Rarotonga reporting the phones going “crazy” since the announcement.

Although figures for bookings via Flight Centre would not be known until later, a spokeswoman confirmed the company had seen a massive jump on its site overnight.

“Comparing yesterday to last Monday, (the) views on Cook Islands holidays packages at flightcentre.co.nz saw a 4100 per cent increase.”

Searches for Rarotongan flights on the site were up 6333 per cent yesterday and blog views for “What to pack to take to the Cook Islands” was up by 540 per cent.

Other top searches included “Top Rarotongan Resorts” – up 2700 per cent – and “Best time to visit Rarotonga and how to get there” – up 8400 per cent.

The dramatic increase came after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern officially announced a new two-way travel bubble with New Zealand and the Cook Islands; starting from Monday, May 17 (NZT).

Phones started going off during live announcement

Pacific Resort Hotel Group, which has four luxury hotels in the Cook Islands, said they had to bring in its sales and reservations team on yesterday (Sunday, local time) to cater to all the inquiries coming through.

Chief executive Marcus Niszow said: “It was almost immediate. The live (announcement) feed was still going and people were phoning up and the email started going off.”

Niszow said they had been lucky to keep staff on and that the only staff members who had left had done so voluntarily or for their own reasons.

“Addressing the team today, the relief of the team is tremendous. We’re hospitality people, so we’re really looking forward to having people back.”

Staff at Crown Beach Resort & Spa – a private, adults-only luxury resort on Rarotonga’s sunset coast – also reported a surge in phone calls and online bookings and inquiries.

A reservations staffer said she opened her inbox to 20 new bookings overnight – the most she had seen in months.

“After the announcement, it went crazy,” she said.

Two couples from New Zealand who had booked to have their weddings at the resort last year had also been in touch – this time to book a holiday, after holding their weddings in New Zealand instead due to the pandemic.

General manager Sierra Glade said staff members were “happy and overwhelmed” about the travel bubble opening up.

“We’re definitely excited, but there’s also some hesitation because we have been Covid-free and we want to keep our little island Covid-free.

“The private sector has been struggling, so we are definitely excited for this.”

Asked for any words to entice Kiwis to make the trip over she said: “We have the perfect escape – and it is hot.”

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