Air Raro’s Niue fix from http://www.cinews.co.ck
April 9 2001 - Cook Islanders may think we have population problems. But next door neighbours Niue are 10 times worse off, with just 1,400 people compared to our 14,000.
“We have whole villages of empty houses,” says Bryce Newcombe, manager of the stunning Matavai Resort.
In the last 10 years, Niue’s population has shrunk from over 2,000 to today’s levels.
Empty houses line the roads, waiting for the return of a tourism boom that has already come and gone.
As neighbours, “next door” to Niue is, of course, three hours by Air Rarotonga’s SAAB 340 aircraft, about 586 nautical miles for pilots and 1,072kms for the rest of us.
That distance may about to be shrunk by this country’s only domestic airline, one cheerfully described by chief executive Ewan Smith as a “monopoly.”
Air Rarotonga is not yet going to lay on regular flights to Niue but has put forward a package to their government that Smiths says is a “leading contender” for approval.
For residents like Newcombe that can’t come soon enough. His resort had a boomer last year but with the collapse of the country’s airline, Royal Tonga, the sweeping decks are empty and the country’s tourism industry has shrunk to zero.
Another resident says morale on the island is at similar levels.
“They’ve been hoping tourism will recover and now this,” he says.
Crushed coral roads, reliable power, free internet access and a good quality resort add up to an attractive package that equals opportunity to Smith.
“It’s not like they don’t have the infrastructure, and we have the plane, so hopefully we can get this working,” he says on the way to Niue. — Jason Brown
This could not come soon enough. I have had word thru some Niuean friends here in PER that the business life in Niue is close to collapse at the moment, with no firm plans to brings in the tourists which the island is becoming more dependant on.
Also, in a further development, Air Rarotonga has now be licenced by the NZ CAA as an international airline, allowing it to commence flights to Niue, once their plans are approved (mere formality) by the Nuiean government. There are also possible plans for service from RAR-INU-PPT in the future using the airline's Saab 340.
I also noticed in this report the name Ewan Smith. Can some tell me where I know this name from. He is a Kiwi businessman right? Previous history?