The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium (formerly The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa)


The COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis is rapidly evolving around the world and in the Cook Islands. In the last few days, of particular relevance to the tourism industry in the Cook Islands;
1. The New Zealand and Australian Governments advised their citizens to return home and not leave the country on any non-essential travel. It is widely expected that both Governments are moving towards closing their borders, as many other countries around the world have done already. 

 New Zealand and Australia provide the bulk of visitors to the Cook Islands.

2. The Cook Islands Government postponed flights from USA, Australia and French Polynesia leaving only New Zealand air links open but with the New Zealand Government travel advisory issued yesterday, for all intents and purposes, the New Zealand market is now closed as a tourism source market. Therefore, the Cook Islands tourism industry will effectively be closing down over the next few days for the foreseeable future.

3. The Cook Islands Government is closing access to the outer islands, including Aitutaki, from Saturday 21 March. As we have an almost full resort in Aitutaki, we are working with guests to get them to Rarotonga as soon as possible and then onto Auckland where, as we currently understand it, they will be required to complete 14 days in quarantine. If New Zealand does close it’s borders, non-New Zealand citizen guests may be in New Zealand for a longer than expected period of time.

4. We have begun to implement adjustments to the business to effectively move to a skeleton staff (including minimal security, maintenance, reservations, accounting, reception, restaurant, housekeeping etc personnel etc), cutting all other costs to the absolute minimum e.g. electricity etc to achieve the lowest cost base while still keeping all three resorts open for business. We believe that it is important not to formally close the resorts as it could take many months to get back to full operations, particularly in terms of access to the internet based global hotel distribution systems. It is important, if possible, to avoid the significant psychological obstacles for guests, staff, travel agents and vendors that can result from closing a resort indefinitely. Therefore, we will try for as long as we can to keep all three resorts open for business, including our restaurants on a limited menu, even if occupancies will be less than 5%, if that. It is not clear how long we will be able to do this for. This will mean that if and when the market begins to return to normal that we can start to grow again as visitors return to the Cook Islands. We hope to keep our excellent team of staff employed to the maximum extent realistically possible and for as long as possible, until the recovery begins.

5. The Cook Islands Government is scheduled to announce an economic stimulus package shortly. The Cook Islands business community has been pulling together to face the COVID-19 crisis with a unified front as best we can in the circumstances with public pledges of support to the private sector from Government, banks, utility providers etc. although the details of this support is unknown at this time.

6. While this crisis is unprecedented in its scale and scope, we have been through many crisis before whether the Global Financial Crisis, SARS, hurricanes etc., and have always emerged better and stronger and I would hope that this will be the result of this crisis, in the medium to long term. To that end, there will be a renewed focus on innovation, particularly in terms of digital marketing and the adoption of new technology such as artificial intelligence to significantly improve the efficiency of all businesses globally, but for travel related businesses in particular. In that regard, we are as well positioned as any travel related company to capitalise on the inevitable upturn in tourism once the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis comes under control.

The situation remains fluid and rapidly evolving but we face the unknown ahead positively and with a view to a brighter future on the other side of this unprecedented challenge.

Yours sincerely

Tata Crocombe
Managing Director

☎ +(682) 25-800 ☎ NZ 0800 727-686 ☎ AU 1800 272 768 (General inquiries direct to the Resort) 
☎ AU 1300 117-292 (Quotes and reservations from Australia)