New Zealand maritime safety advisors will be on deck alongside their Cook Islands colleagues to help ensure their tourist boats are ready for a big influx of visitors over the next few months.
The Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP) is sending five technical advisors to support a safety campaign led by the Maritime Division of the Cook Islands Ministry of Transport.
The campaign will include undertaking vessel inspections and surveys and providing safety advice to operators and will target tourist and charter vessels to make sure they are all in good shape ahead of the July school holidays.
PMSP Manager David Billington said the Cook Islands administration had been proactive in managing their domestic fleet since COVID-19 forced the country to close its borders to tourists.
“Their team has been working hard to ensure their domestic fleet has remained in good operating order over the past 12-15 months,” Mr Billington said.
“But we know that the beginning of any season is a good time to thoroughly check your boat, check your gear and review your operation.
“With the bubble opening with the Cook Islands, it’s effectively the beginning of what could be a really bumper tourist season – so it’s the perfect time to launch a big safety campaign and really make sure all their vessels are in good shape.
“We’re honoured to be invited to support this campaign and looking forward to working alongside our Pacific colleagues for the first time in over a year.”
Mr Billington said the New Zealand team would be working under direction from the Cook Islands.
Cook Islands Secretary of Transport John Hosking said the Maritime Division was committed to ensuring safety standards were high across all their domestic vessels and chartered operators.
“At the end of the day, we want everyone to come home safely. That’s our focus and we welcome the support from New Zealand”.