Cook Islands economy

Thomas Cook: the man who created tourism

Lush tropical vegetation, clear ocean waters, comfortable, secluded and virtually untouched beaches. These indicators, excluding the last one, can be adjusted to several hundred islands, which, as if specially according to the plan of the great marketer, were created for the advertising campaign of Bounty chocolate. And only fifteen islands in the Pacific Ocean really correspond to the epithets that are usually listed when speaking of the analogue of paradise on earth - these are the Cook Islands.

Geographical curiosity

If you delve into the history and what is known today about the great traveler James Cook, some historical and geographical curiosity will become noticeable to the naked eye. The fact is that the first to find these islands was not James Cook at all, but the navigators Alvarado de Mendanha and Pedro Fernandez Quiros, the Spaniards, already in one thousand five hundred and ninety-five. Although found - this is roughly said. They swam to the island of Pukapuka, looked around, gave it the name San Bernando and ... sailed on. For one hundred and fifty years, this part of the Pacific Ocean has been forgotten.

Forgotten until 1773 when James Cook set out on his journey. But either the islands were so well camouflaged, or Cook was busy with something else, but he explored only part of the archipelago, four small islands, missing the largest - Rarotonga. And if not for the riot on the ship "Bounty", this island would have remained unnoticed for a long time. Once again, we note that Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands, and he has the right to assign himself another name - Bounty, because the members of this particular ship became the first Europeans who left their mark on the island. But the archipelago received its current name from the Russian explorer I.F.Kruzenshtern. In the early nineteenth century, he mapped the islands and gave them a common name in memory of the "scattered" James Cook - the Cook Islands.

A few dry facts

For the sake of completeness, it is worth talking about the geographical position of the Cook Islands, population, political structure, and, to summarize, some more dry facts about this truly magical place. The Cook Archipelago is located in the southern hemisphere, near New Zealand. And even their exact name sounds very solid - a territory in free association with New Zealand.

The head of state of the Cook Islands is the reigning monarch of Great Britain, now it is Elizabeth II. All affairs are handled by a plenipotentiary appointed by her. By the way, he is the only celebrity of the archipelago. And one more important fact: the Cook Islands have their own constitution, and the government can make its own laws. And, despite the archipelago's belonging to New Zealand, the New Zealand government has no right to influence or amend legislation. The archipelago is an independent territory.

The official languages ​​of the islands are English and Maori, but on each island, which is quite natural, they speak their own dialect. The Maori are considered the indigenous inhabitants of the Cook Islands. They came to these lands fifteen hundred years ago, but even before them, representatives of various ethnic groups periodically visited the Cook Islands.

The archipelago residents receive their main income from the tourism business, which is quite natural. But there are also additional items of income for the treasury: the export of pearls and exotic fruits, and since the declaration of the islands as an offshore zone - also banking.

The capital of the Cook archipelago, Avarua, is nestled on the largest of the fifteen islands, Rarotonga. And as in any other capital in the world, the main commercial and administrative buildings are located here. The Cook Islands International Airport is also located in Rarotonga. Of course, it is inferior in size to major airports, but Boeings land quite safely on its runways. And precisely because there is an airport on Rarotonga, any trip to the Cook Islands begins with an acquaintance with their capital.


Rarotonga is a very unusual island. Everything from its form to the plant world is amazing. From a bird's eye view, the island resembles an eye in the middle of the ocean. The fact is that Rarotonga is almost completely surrounded by coral reefs. The water around the ideally oval island is of a light azure hue, and the island itself, like a curious pupil, “looks into the blue of the sky”, either admiring its own beauty and tenderness of colors, or admiring the color of the sky.

Cook Islands; tops of the head; seamounts

After gaining autonomy, the Cook Islands experienced difficulties due to their geographical remoteness, low demographic level and lack of mineral resources. But at the end of the 20th century, the archipelago focused on tourism.

Cook Islands Economy

The Cook Islands have always had some difficulty in maintaining successful economic development. There are reasons for this: remoteness hindered integration into major global markets, while small populations and scarcity of minerals prevented the creation of industrial networks with stable trade. In addition, the country is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, such as cyclones, which have recently become more frequent, usually causing severe destruction and causing serious damage to the country's infrastructure. One of the archipelago's biggest challenges is maintaining fiscal balance. In the mid-1990s, due to huge and rapidly growing external debt, the Cook Islands virtually ceased payments. Beginning in 1996, the government had to implement austerity regimes to achieve budget surpluses.

The remoteness of the Cook Islands had a beneficial effect on the preservation of natural beauty, but it also became a ballast for economic development, as it prevented integration into world markets.

The Cook Islands have relied on tourism as an engine of economic development. The money received from the hundred thousand tourists who visit the archipelago every year has become the country's main source of income.

One of the most painful measures was the reduction of half of jobs in the public sector, which affected 2,000 employees, that is, 10% of the country's population. As a result, many people emigrated to countries such as New Zealand and Australia in search of work. Ultimately, the government was forced to accept a bailout package from New Zealand to revive its economy.

Touch Paradise

It seems natural that with the natural beauty of paradise, the Cook Islands have relied on tourism. In 2010, the archipelago received more than one hundred thousand tourists who arrived mainly at the country's only international airport, which is located on the island of Rarotonga. Most of the visitors come from New Zealand, Australia, the European Union and the United States. Tourism is an important source of income, although some projects related to this sector are a real headache for local authorities. For example, the failed construction of the Sheraton Hotel, which in the 1990s almost brought the country to bankruptcy.

Self-Regulating Economy

At the same time, the economic situation in the Cook Islands began to stabilize thanks to control over spending, the sale of public assets and the development of the tourism sector. In addition, the restructuring of external debt has enabled the country to pursue its own bold development projects.

Did you know that ... The Cook Islands economy is one of the smallest in the world and in the ranking of countries in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) is in last place.

In any case, the heavy reliance on tourism, which is most subject to fluctuations in the international economic course, presents a problem for the country's future. Outside the tourism sector, other important sources of income are remittances sent by expatriates to their relatives on the islands, as well as exports of black pearls, copra, papaya, citrus fruits, coffee and fish. The relatively recent discovery of deposits of magnesium, which the government plans to export, opens up new prospects for the Cook Islands.

Lush tropical vegetation, clear ocean waters, comfortable, secluded and virtually untouched beaches. Under these indicators, excluding the last one, you can

Hello dear readers!

Today, trips to other countries have become commonplace. In order to get to any corner of the world (Maldives, Bounty), you just need to have a certain amount of money and find a good travel agency.

We are already so accustomed to the word "tourism" that it seems to us that it and this kind of recreation have always existed. In fact, tourism is only 170 years old and was born on July 5, 1841 in England. It is about the creator of tourism and his incredible success story that we will tell today.

Beginning of the path

Thomas Cook's life began, as expected, out of poverty. Why did I write "as it should be"? Since this is not the first success story, I can say with confidence that most successful people experience significant hardships in childhood (Walt Disney, Thomas Lipton, John Rockefeller). Perhaps this makes them successful and purposeful afterwards.

So let's continue. His father died when Tom was very young, and the boy was raised by his stepfather, who treated him like his own son.

The family did not have enough money, so 10-year-old Thomas began working as an assistant for a gardener, receiving 6p a week. At the age of 14, he began working in a carpentry workshop, from which he quit at the age of 19. Despite his work, Tom found time to attend school at the monastery. The knowledge gained here helped him a lot in later life.

How faith and avoiding alcohol helped start a business

One of the main drivers of Thomas Cook's success in life was his faith (he was a Baptist). At the age of 17 (1826) he was baptized and began writing extensively for a local Baptist magazine. In addition, he taught Sunday school and actively preached in the nearby villages around Loughborough (in this city he lived).

Such an active missionary activity he really enjoyed, it brought him many new acquaintances and friends, as well as 10 shillings a week (which by those standards was considered a good income). But by the end of 1830, the fund for the Baptist organization dried up, and Thomas was forced to look for a source of income.

He decided to take up an already familiar business, and in the small town of Harboraffe, next to Loughborough, rented a carpentry workshop. True, Thomas moved here not alone, but with his young wife Marian Mason, whom he met in Sunday school.

Charles Sobrage earned $ 15 million by selling to Bollywood the story of how he deceived, robbed and killed Western tourists who decided to see the wonders of the East. Tourists have been and remain the desired prey for all kinds of criminals, since a person who has come to rest easily forgets about his safety.

Traveling has always been risky. Merchants, pilgrims, settlers, pioneers and other adventurers encountered many dangers on their way, associated with both the vagaries of nature and the actions of dishonest people. Tourists have not avoided this risk, but, unlike other travelers, tourists are usually completely unprepared for major troubles on a trip. The tourist is initially set up for entertainment and relaxation and is inclined to believe that nothing will ever happen to him personally, which makes him an easy prey for criminals. If we also remember that a tourist, being careless and complacent, as a rule, has quite large sums of money and a lot of valuable things with him, it is easy to understand why hunting for vacationers is so attractive.

Crimes against tourists began to be committed at the same time that tourism itself appeared. In the 16th century, some aristocratic families began to send offspring on foreign trips, in which young people were supposed to get to know the world, make useful acquaintances and learn wisdom. By the 18th century, educational travel had largely turned into recreational travel. The tradition is especially firmly rooted in rich England. British aristocrats and businessmen sent their sons, who graduated from university, to Europe, the route usually included France, Germany and Italy. Rich young men rode in the company of friends and servants, having with them a supply of money, as well as jewelry, cutlery and other things that an aristocrat needed on the road. During the big tour, as such trips were called, young people saw the sights, got acquainted with the local nobility and, of course, indulged in all the available entertainment. Of course, a rich rake, who found himself in a strange situation and was inclined to waste money, became the subject of close attention from seekers of easy money.

First of all, young British people should be wary of new acquaintances - aristocrats. In the middle of the 18th century, the seasoned traveler Sakiverell Stevens wrote about the continental nobles: "When dealing with noble and influential foreigners, do not sit down with them. Firstly, they know how to play in a special way, and secondly, unlike the British, they they don't always pay if they lose. " In addition to titled cheats, English tourists were trapped by dishonest businessmen. Stevens warned travelers who found themselves in the territory of modern Belgium: "Never take the word of local merchants. There is no certainty that the exact product you paid for will be sent to your home."

The British, who traveled to Italy, unanimously complained that they were cheated and robbed at every step. The young gentleman Philip Francis, recalling the journey from Rome to Tuscany, wrote: “I was extorted money at every post station. There is no escape from this, because if you refuse to pay, they will take the horses. At least now we know everything about the Romans, and now I only pray that they themselves and their Neapolitan neighbors will be given eternal damnation. " The carriages of tourists were regularly attacked by half-starved Italians, who demanded alms and along the way stole everything they could reach.

However, all these were just minor troubles, which were later recalled as funny adventures. Meetings with real criminals were much more dangerous. In September 1723, English tourists named Davis, Locke, Mompesson, and Sebrite arrived in Calais to travel across France. Young people were too noisy and too openly changing large sums, which attracted everyone's attention. The travelers had not traveled seven miles when robbers attacked them, robbed and killed them. The death of four gentlemen caused an international scandal, France promised that this would not happen again, but already in 1725 Charles Evelyn, Esq., And his companions fell into the clutches of robbers on the way to Lyon. This time the British managed to escape, but all their goods remained in the hands of the intruders.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images/Fotobank

Scions of influential families have often become victims of criminals. Once in French Chantilly, thieves stole the chest of Horace Walpole, the son of British Prime Minister Robert Walpole. All this complicated interstate relations and badly influenced the image of the host countries. France, Holland and some other states have honestly tried to make the life of tourists safe and have achieved impressive success here. In any case, by the end of the 18th century, English travelers increasingly recognized that European roads were much better guarded than English ones.

The industrial revolution of the 19th century laid the foundations for mass tourism. Railroads and steamboats made it possible to cover long distances and made travel affordable for people with average and low incomes. In 1841, the Englishman Thomas Cook organized the first rail excursion for the inhabitants of his native Leicester, and in 1855 he already led the world's first group of international tourists, which he brought to Paris for the World's Fair. Soon, Cook's office began organizing tours to Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and the United States, and the services of the firm were used mainly by representatives of the middle class. Of course, from time to time someone robbed tourists. Someone was slipped a fake Egyptian papyrus, someone had their watches cut off, but in general, international tourism was already considered a fairly safe hobby.

Countries where European civilization did not have time to spread its influence remained the risk zone. The traveler Harry de Windt, who visited Persia in 1890, reported that the last European trying to take the same route was tricked by guides, robbed, tied to a tree, and left to starve to death. However, people like de Windt deliberately looked for danger and adventure, so risking was part of the pleasure for them.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, besides the British, representatives of other developed countries became addicted to tourism, and after the Second World War it became a truly global phenomenon. Residents of Western Europe and North America increasingly traveled to third world countries, which travel agencies positioned as heaven on earth with green palm trees and sunny beaches. In the 1960s, the West was carried away by Eastern religions and drugs, and crowds of seekers of new sensations flocked to the hot countries that had recently freed themselves from colonial oppression, for whom the world seemed welcoming, friendly and completely safe. This is where the serious problems began.

Photo: SSPL/Getty Images/Fotobank

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