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Above & beyond: TravelManagers PTM gets Cook Islands athletes to Pacific Games

TravelManagers personal travel manager (PTM) Mo Hosea called on his 17 years of travel industry know-how when 28 Cook Islands Rugby League 9s players became stranded en route to the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

TravelManagers personal travel manager (PTM) Mo Hosea called on his 17 years of travel industry know-how when 28 Cook Islands Rugby League 9s players became stranded en route to the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

TravelManagers’ Mo Hosea was enlisted by the Cook Islands’ Sports & Olympic Committee to manage the travel arrangements of around 150 athletes, games attendees and officials.

This included a group of Cook Islands Rugby League 9s players and supporters when the second leg of their journey from Auckland to Nadi was cancelled due to Cyclone Mal.

Stranded by the cyclone

Solomon Islands.

Originally from the Cook Islands (Aitutakian/Manihikian/Maukean/Rarotongan) and now based in Banksia, WA, Mr Hosea received the cancellation news at 2am local time and immediately looked for an alternative for the stranded players.

“It wasn’t the easiest thing to do at the very last minute for such a large group,” Mr Hosea said.

“Because of the cyclone, the most direct route was no longer an option. As well as the new flights, many other components needed to be brought together, including transfers and accommodation en route to Honiara.”

Describing it as his biggest challenge in 17 years of selling travel, he worked virtually around the clock for the next 72 hours.

“I am so grateful that they put their trust in me to get it done – they were flying each sector on faith, trusting me to have their next leg sorted while they were in the air,” he said.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing support I received from TravelManagers National Partnership Office, especially Fares & Ticketing Manager José Cañas.”

Hapi Isles ending

Cook Islands and Gold Coast Titans NRLW star Chantay Kiria-Ratu (left) in fine form at the women’s Rugby League 9s tournament at the 2023 Pacific Games.
Cook Islands and Gold Coast Titans NRLW star Chantay Kiria-Ratu (left) in fine form at the women’s Rugby League 9s tournament. Image: Sol2023 Pacific Games

The group arrived in Honiara a day ahead of the opening ceremony – two days before their first match.

Mr Hosea said Cook Islanders also rallied to support the team, hosting the group in Canberra and Brisbane, providing accommodation and fundraising to help cover costs.

Players and supporters also flocked to social media to express their gratitude with Cook Island Rugby Leagues 9s Team Manager Wallace Aroita describing Mr Hosea’s efforts as “heroic”.

“It was a proud Kuki moment to see our people in the Cook Islands, New Zealand and Australia all come together to aid our team and people,” Mr Hosea said.

“But for me, the best reward was watching them excel in Honiara with the women’s team taking home gold and the men’s team winning bronze.”

The Solomon Islands was one of the last countries to lift COVID-era restrictions, lifting all travel rules in May this year in time to host the 2023 Pacific Games in November.

Find out more at travelmanagers.com.au