Cook Islands unveils sustainability drive

The Cook Islands has highlighted the steps it is taking to be more sustainable as part of a new eco initiative called ‘A Step in the Green Direction’.

The tourist board said the new platform had been created to communicate the destination’s eco-credentials to outside markets and help integrate eco ‘unspoilt paradise’ messaging into the main brand.

The destination, which is keen to welcome international guests as soon as borders open and flights resume, now boasts a Mana Tiaki Eco certification (MTEC) –  a set of standards that has been established to embed biodiversity considerations and basic conservation efforts into the operations of the tourism industry.

The islands have also ramped up recycling efforts, adopted eco-friendly transport alternatives and are moving towards being plastic free. 

Community groups are selling cloth bags, the islands’ largest retailer has discontinued plastic bags and local non-profit organisations are running awareness campaigns to reduce plastic containers and straws. 

In addition, the islands are continuing to champion conservation following the passing of the Marae Moana (Ocean Sanctuary) Bill in 2017. 

The Bill created the planet’s largest marine-protected area, which covers more than 700,000 square miles of ocean, and is committed to protecting the region’s marine biodiversity, which includes rare seabirds, beaked whales, manta rays and several threatened shark species. 

Tourists will also now be able to access new tours when they visit, including an eco-educational walking tour exploring Rarotonga’s hard coral reefs, and an interactive cultural tour looking at the traditional skills many Cook Islanders still practice today.

To encourage visitors to maintain its sustainable efforts and become a ‘Mana Tiaki’ (guardian) of the destination, the Cook Islands has released a video series of the islands’ famous ‘Aunties’, which can be watched here

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