HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Do more to promote the Cook Islands in China say visitors
Wonderful, impressive, beautiful,” are just some of the words used by Chinese Professor, F. Gui PhD, when describing his first visit to Rarotonga.
A great compliment since apparently, very little is done to promote the Cook Islands in China.
Prof Gui is Vice-Director of Zhejiang Ocean University in Zhoushan City, Zhejiang, China.
The university focuses on marine and aquaculture studies and has some 58,000 students, some of whom are foreign students.
The professor is visiting the Cook Islands on a fact finding mission with a small group from China including Mr Davey Chen who is a lawyer representing a number of business interests, Mr Nee who is a businessman and an investor and Jessy Jiewang an IT specialist who is Mr Nee’s General Manager. None in the group knew what to expect before travelling to the Cook Islands because internet sites in China are so vague about the attractions here. All in the party speak perfect English except for Mr Nee who requires an interpreter. The group’s main interest is in Marine and Aquaculture.
The group arrived in Rarotonga on Saturday evening and on Sunday travelled to Aitutaki where they were hosted by Minister for Marine Hon Teina Bishop. They returned to Rarotonga on Tuesday and visited and spoke to officials from various government agencies including our Ministry for Marine Resources. They depart on Wednesday evening.
While in Aitutaki they visited One Foot Island and according to Prof Gui, were extremely impressed with its beauty, clear water and fish. They also enjoyed a swim in very clear water, something they cannot do in China. They loved the sand, the coral and the fish. He said Cook Islanders were so lucky and that Chinese tourists would be excited by what we have to offer.
Prof Gui said very little is being done in China to promote the Cook Islands. This was echoed by Jessy Jiewang who said that on the internet in China, mention is made of Rarotonga only, but very little is explained. She said there was no advice to tell tourists that we use New Zealand currency. There was no mention of Aitutaki. There was plenty of information on Fiji and Tahiti.
Jessy graduated from Shanghai University then did her Masters degree at university in Houston, Texas. She returned to her home town Zhoushan in China to work for a salary well below what she could have commanded elsewhere for example Shanghai. However, she spoke of a “value of life” something which young Cook Islanders seeking work in NZ and Australia do not appreciate perhaps until later in life when they are considering retirement.
Prof Gui said the opportunity existed for the Cook Islands to take advantage of training courses at his university in China. There are also opportunities for businesses to be established by Chinese interests in the marine and aquaculture field which would provide employment for locals and training to up-skill locals in areas like research and development to build capacity to take the Cook Islands economy forwards.
Prof Gui however cautioned against rapid development saying this carried some risks to preserving our traditional and unique way of life. Prof Gui said he was impressed at how friendly and relaxed Cook Islanders were. Why risk such a pleasant way of life by rapid development which only introduced a faster pace of life and additional pressures and stress? -Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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