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Call to slow down

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A MEMBER of Parliament in the Cook Islands Sel Napa is urging the government to bring in measures to slow down tourism as she says it's not sustainable.

The Titikaveka MP said there were signs Rarotonga was under strain.

She said infrastructure and upgraded utilities must be in place to cope and the Cook Islands administration had been warned of this in the past.

She said the Asian Development Bank had warned roads, power, water, sewerage and solid waste disposal facilities needed to have been substantially upgraded for the island to cope with 100,000 tourists a year.

Ms Napa said between March to September this year there were more tourists each month to the Cook Islands, mostly to Rarotonga, than the entire local resident population.

"This hasn't happened yet and it really concerns me.

"Here we are wanting more and more tourists, but Rarotonga just can't cope with almost 160,000 tourists a year, our roads, water, sewerage, our solid waste disposal, our power as they are today can't handle this burden.

"If we don't have the infrastructure and utilities in place, we shouldn't be encouraging ever increasing tourism, it doesn't make sense."

She said, as a member of the Rarotonga Environment Authority, no large scale tourism developments should be processed by the authority REA until the overall upgrade on Rarotonga is completed.

"We are a really special place and we should be safeguarding the very things that make us a place that tourists want to visit, cramming as many tourists on to Rarotonga isn't the way to go," she cautioned.

She pointed out that tourism is now virtually steady throughout the year, rather than the peaks and drops of past years.

"So this means there's constant pressure throughout the year by large numbers of visitors."

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