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Journal of Pacific Studies

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Rarotonga Airport: A preliminary View of the Possible Balance Sheet (Abstract)

By: Tony LeFevre

Cook Island opinion on the new airport at Rarotonga is divided. To some, the arrival of the first Air New Zealand jet on December 4th 1973 signalled the advent of progress. Others saw it as knocking one further nail into the already half-submerged coffin of traditional Polynesia.

Wether the result will finally be viewed as favourable is unknown, but it is certain that the airport will have a substantial influence on the small island economy of just 21,000 inhabitants spread over 751,000 square miles of Pacific ocean. The obvious use for the modern airport and the jet aircraft which will fly to it, is a tourist industry. This prospect is by no means attractive to all Cook islanders, but the opening of the airport is a tacit admission by the government that a visitor industry, if only in a modest form, is in some way considered expedient. Although tourism will be the major social and economic influence of the new airport, improved air communication could stimulate and facilitate expansion of other activities.

 


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