The recently reinvigorated Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation Scheme highlights many factors which will influence a visitor’s choice of accommodation and services when visiting the Cook Islands. We take pleasure in highlighting the new scheme’s features and benefits below. The Accreditation Scheme is underpinned by a Tourism Charter which ensures that prescribed operating and minimum facility standards are upheld.

1. What is the concept behind the new scheme?
The Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council and The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation have collaborated to refresh the existing Accreditation Scheme. Based on the original 1997 mandate, it is designed to give visitors confidence when choosing where to stay, where to eat and how best to experience what the Cook Islands has on offer. It is a non-profit, remodelled simple, affordable and robust, quality assurance programme. Using the new Tourism Industry Charter (hyper-link) as its foundation, the scheme consists of a self-assessment process which is then checked by visits from independent assessors from NZ. It is governed by an Accreditation Board made up of representatives from the Tourism Corporation, the Industry Council and the Government Departments of Health & Environment.

2. When did the new scheme start?
The new scheme came into effect on 1 January 2013, initially for the accommodation sector, with other business sectors steadily coming on line.

3. Is it compulsory for a tourism based business to belong?
No – the scheme is voluntary but it has been designed with strong benefits for the operator, making it compelling to become a member. The scheme is designed to help ensure the destination as a whole provides a unified minimum level of quality standards.

4. When an operator is officially assessed by the independent person or a statutory government body and does not meet minimum criteria, what happens?
They will be officially requested to address the shortfall and given a time line for completion.

5. Under what circumstances might they lose accreditation?
If an Accredited Business fails to meet the compulsory minimum standards and has no pathway forward to address the shortfall, the Accreditation Board is likely to suspend the business from the scheme.

6. Why is there a Charter?
To outline the foundation principles and to provide a guideline for this quality assurance process for all stakeholders. It highlights the ethics by which the scheme operates.

7. Who sets the compulsory minimum standards?
A continuous improvement process initially established by the Tourism Industry Council and the Tourism Corporation, and then maintained/improved by the Accreditation Board. These compulsory standards are based on many of the parameters and compliance requirements of the original 1997 scheme.

8. What will happen to accommodators, if they and other businesses do not wish to join (or do not comply) and therefore cannot be accredited.
They can continue to operate. The scheme is voluntary and market and regulatory forces will apply (but they will not receive the benefits of being an accredited member). A tourist can choose to patronize such an accommodation or business, however, caveat emptor would be advisable.

9. Can a rental or holiday home agent represent non-members of the Scheme?
Yes, they can. But if that agent/business is accredited itself, when they advertise/represent any non-accredited home/business on printed matter or on a website, they must insert the following text beside any reference to that property
“Non-member of the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Accreditation Scheme”.

10. As a visitor, how do I identify an Accredited business?
See below the new logo – this is the sign that provides quality assurance by any member of the Accreditation Scheme. Logos will be date identified for the year of issue.

11. If I have an issue with an Accredited Business that I have not been able to resolve with them directly, what can I do?
You can send a communication to the Tourism Corporation and they will review the issue and refer it to the appropriate department to respond to you.

The 15 islands of the Cooks lie halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, scattered like fragrant frangipani petals floating across 2.2 million square kilometres of a seductive, sensual ocean.

The Cook Islands culture is moulded by its Polynesian heritage mixed with a European influence. A melange of mystical islands shrouded in legends of romance and piracy, escapades and hidden treasures, all of which have shaped the traditions and customs that give the Cook Island people their own unique identity.
For more information in regards to the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation scheme please visit the Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council website.

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