South Seas Islands Pin Future on Geotourism

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Perhaps the most famous of Cook Islands handicrafts are tivaevae: brightly colored, intricately embroidered quilts pieced together by small groups of women using a technique developed in the Cooks. Because of the social significance of crafting tivaevae and the number of months required to make one, they are considered prized family heirlooms and remain inside the home. However, you can view tivaevea at the Atiu Fibre Arts studio and, if you're willing to pay upward of U.S. $1,300, you can buy one for yourself.

A New Plan

Phillips began his project with the most extensive tourism consultation ever undertaken in the Cooks. With government officials alongside, he met with locals, business owners, and other tourism stakeholders on 10 of the 15 islands. "I have found the concept of geotourism extremely useful in broadening people's thinking about the character of tourism," he reports.

The task now is to build a tourism strategy based on the distinguishing character of the Cooks. Earlier this summer Phillips gave a presentation on geotourism that was broadcast twice on Cook Islands television. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation has since authorized him to write a new plan based on a definition of geotourism he adapted to the islands: "tourism that sustains and enhances the well-being of resident Cook Islanders and their environment, culture, aesthetics, and heritage."

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