Niue's first ukulele festival to benefit humpback conservation
The song of the humpback and the strum of the uke combine to attract visitors to Niue.
The song of the humpback and the strum of the ukulele are being celebrated next week with the inaugural Ukulele Festival of Niue.
It's one of three new events which aim to extend the island's tourism high season.
Niue Tourism's chief executive says she's focusing on extending the peak visitor months beyond June to September.
In her first year in the role Felicity Bollen has been developing events to broaden Niue's appeal, and to stimulate visitor numbers.
This month sees what's called NiueKulele, the ukulele festival which runs from the 21st to 24th of October.
She told Dominic Godfrey how it came about.
FELICITY BOLLEN: We were given a 200-thousand dollar grant from the New Zealand Government to help support this initiate, so this year we are actually running three events, the first one was a junior rock man event, a kids triathlon, which we ran in April this year, which was really great and achieved what we wanted to achieve, the second one, the Kai Niue food festival, which is a biennial event so it's the second time we had run it and that was very successful this year we more than trebled our numbers of international guests and then the NiueKulele is sort of my baby, I thought it would be great to have a music festival here in Niue and what better then the ubiquitous ukulele which is found in every Pacific country even though it came from Portugal. So we wanted to do something that was fun, that was sort of little bit quirky, a little bit unusual and would attract a certain type of visitor to Niue.
DOMINIC GODFREY: How many and where from?
FB: Predominately New Zealand and that's not a problem for us so at the moment we only attract one percent of the Pacific destination market out of New Zealand, so we've got a huge opportunity to increase those numbers.
DG: So how many visitors are you expecting as part of the NiueKulele festival?
FB: International guests, we are probably expecting about 30 or 40 people which I know sounds absolutely tiny in visitor numbers but actually for us it's a very large amount of people. We've got international ukulele players coming in from Hawai'i, from Samoa, from the Cook Islands and from New Zealand and obviously from Niue as well. So this is our first one, we never aimed for large numbers but we've had a really, really good response and we are looking at 40 people at the moment who are coming specifically for the festival.
DG: So that's 40 people on top of what your normal expectation is?
FB: Yes, yes, so we have a whole lot of people that are coming up who are were already coming who have bought the weekly package tickets which is great but we've got about 40 people who are coming specifically for NiueKulele.
DG: What does that mean in terms of dollars? In terms of extra value for the island's economy?
FB: Because it's a donor funded project, the other island projects are considered less important than getting our branding out there because they are new events so we are trying to get them into the market but certainly have a good return on investment on these events.
DG: And these are good products for you to go to the international travel agencies and sell?
FB: Absolutely, people love events, they love events that have got to do with food and wine, and they love events that have got to do with music, so they haven't been a hard sell.
DG: On top of that you have also got the tail end of the humpback whale season haven't you?
FB: Indeed, yes.
DG: And starting off, kind of stimulating these promotion of the Niue ukulele festival, you were doing a trade me function here in Aotearoa, New Zealand?
FB: We did, that was something I saw with the Cairns ukulele festival where they had a celebrity art auction and they do it every year and than they raise money and they give it to a designated charity, and I thought, what a great idea! So we asked some of our local artists who are very talented and we were also cheeky enough to some of our international celebrities, they all went on Trade Me last week and we raised $2,300, and that money will now be donated to Oma Tufua who is our local NGO responsible for the conservation and preservation of the humpbacks. This year is the international year of the whale which is why we specifically choose this, the humpback whale has got such an important historical and cultural value to the Pacific in general but to Niue in particular, we certainly leverage off that for our marketing for Niue, so it's nice to be able to give something back to these creatures that give so much to our country.
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