The premier of Niue says plans to increase the accommodation capacity on the island is moving slowly.
Toke Talagi says he hopes an additional 20 to 30 rooms will be established by June.
Air New Zealand agreed to make an extra trip each fortnight from April to October, on top of the existing weekly flight, but there are plans to operate two weekly flights next year.
Beverley Tse was in Niue recently and spoke to Premier Talagi during the National Show Day about New Zealand's contribution to tourism developments.
TOKE TALAGI: We've got excellent infrastructure. We've got good water, we've got good power, we've got good roads, we've got good telecommunications. That has all been achieved with our funding from New Zealand. That is an extremely important component of what we're trying to do to encourage and develop tourism at this moment. Without those things and without reliable services and infrastructure we won't be able to tourism that we have up until now. The other thing is we're looking at possible a second service every week next year. Now, that's an indication of the fact that tourism is working and it's not a fiction or somebody's imagination. So I'm really pleased about that. And we are determined to continue to develop our tourism, but at the same time we also need o ensure that we don't focus just our attention on tourism because we shouldn't be singularly focused on one thing. We should be looking at other opportunities that we have and the resources that we have on this island and developing it so that we can cope with any problems that may occur, for example with tourism. So we're looking at water, fish and possibly mining and possibly some of the sovereign assets that we have that we can develop.
BEVERLEY TSE: Now, I understand you are wanting to see more accommodation providers. How is that coming along?
TT: Well, it's slow. I'd like to have them all done by next year so we can have this second service. And that's hinging on that. We underwrite Air New Zealand's services here. Up until now we've never had to pay, and that's really a signal that we have managed extremely well our accommodation and airline services to the island. So I'm very pleased. We will need a bill, another 20 or 30 rooms, and we're hoping to be able to achieve that by June next year, when hopefully the second service will start.
BT: I understand you've announced there will be some sort of subsidy to help existing accommodation providers to expand.
TT: No, there won't be any subsidies. In fact, what we're doing at the present moment for accommodation developments is creating a speedier process for making the money available. But it's not a subsidy, it's not a grant. It'll be a loan just like any other loans that we provide for businesses here,with the same interest rates as they pay to the Development Bank.
BT: What other challenges does the tourism industry face, other than accommodation?
TT: Maintaining the standards we need to maintain and also increasing our population capacity to cope with the number of tourists that are coming through.