HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 577: 17 August 2011

The fast ferry is coming-Tahitians approve joint venture

The ferry will be operated by “Tuanua Pacific Cruises (Cook Islands)” a joint venture company comprising the Tahitian ferry operators and local entrepreneurs Tim Tepaki and Tutu Ina.
The joint venture was approved following a board meeting of the company in Tahiti on Tuesday.
Tim Tepaki informed the Herald on Wednesday morning that the establishment of a regular fast ferry service will open the door to economic development of the outer islands, retention of population in the outer islands, development of outer islands agriculture and other produce, introduce greater flexibility into the tourism sector and boost outer islands tourism.
Tepaki said it had concerned him for some time that the outer islands were “dying.” He said the outer islands were depopulating at an alarming rate at the prohibitive air and shipping services and that this would now change.
Tepaki said, “The joint venture with our brothers in Tahiti who own and operate the ferries will help Cook islanders rescue their homelands.”
Tepaki said he was not looking to take on any other partners in this venture.
“The project,” said Tepaki, “is as much about rescuing the Cook Islands as it is about making a profit, needless to say repopulating the outer islands and stimulating economic activity is a profitable venture.”
Tepaki said the fast ferry provides the platform for Tourism Corp’s aim to increase tourist numbers by another 50,000. It provides that flexibility for tour operators and package tour designers to include the fast ferry as part of their tour packages.
Tepaki said the Aremiti 4 is linked to 300 overseas travel wholesalers.
For the outer islands economies to expand, a critical mass of visitors is required and the fast ferry will deliver visitors in sufficient numbers to boost outer islander’s incomes from businesses they establish to cater for visitors.
Tepaki plans to schedule the ferry runs so that round trips of Aitutaki, Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia will enable outer islanders and their produce to arrive Rarotonga on Thursday in time to set up stalls at the Market on Saturday morning. The outer islanders can then return home on Monday’s ferry.
Tepaki said it is hoped the twin hulled ferry “Aremiti 4” will commence service in October or earlier if possible.
The Aremiti 4 has a cruising speed of 32 knots and a 2.8m draught said Tepaki. It can carry 450 passengers in comfortable seating like aircraft seats. It will most likely be the flagship said Tepaki.
The Aremiti 4 will be fitted with additional fuel tanks, a crane and two long boats to transport passengers ashore in the outer islands.
Tepaki said the company had already worked out its schedule of fares to the various outer islands and that these will be announced in due course. He said people will be pleasantly surprised when they see the fares.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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