Making The Rock rock
It may be one of the Pacific Islands region’s smallest territories, with a population of just about 1200 residents and just a single flight coming in and going out every week. But that doesn’t stop it from thinking big.<!--more-->
Niue, often referred to as The Rock of the Pacific (an ancient geological upheaval pushed up its coral reef, hoisting it above sea level), has tremendous potential as a dive destination. It has the most incredible cave formations right below its coastline and the ocean around it makes for superb scuba diving, regarded by many as among the best in the world. Its rich marine life teems with tropical game fish, dolphins and seasonal humpback whales.
Niue now plans to package itself as a “tropical paradise” filmmaking destination and is wooing none less than the Hollywood brigade by first trying to catch the eye of the industry’s biggest name in the region – Lord of the Rings director, New Zealander Peter Jackson.
New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Niue, Mark Blumsky – the man credited with the successful rebranding of Wellington as a tourist destination when he was its mayor – wants to grab tinsel town’s attention with a literally visible initiative.
Blumsky’s team is considering putting up a “Niuewood” sign on one of the more visible locations on the island, a la the legendary “Hollywood” sign. A plan to install a copycat “Wellywood” sign in Wellington, however, came a cropper recently because of fierce local opposition to the idea.
But for Niue it might well turn out to be a huge talking point to get the arc lights focused on itself. “Maybe Peter Jackson should jump on a plane and come and see what Niue has to offer. We think that it would make the perfect setting for a blockbuster re-make of Robinson Crusoe,” he told media recently.
Meanwhile, the island is seeing a number of other developments on the accommodation front, with the extensions and refurbishment of existing tourist facilities and new investments in tourism infrastructure. A New Zealand accounting firm has also set up shop on the island, helping both government departments and the private sector to meet statutory obligations.
The tiny territory has recently beefed up its internet connection with the outside world with the installation of a wider, 4.5 metre satellite dish that cost US$100,000. Its efforts at better connectivity haven’t stopped there. “Our plan is to have a second provider, so that if something goes wrong with the existing satellite link, Niue will still be connected to the worldwide web. Negotiations with possible providers are now under way,” says Project Manager Emani Fakaotimanava-Lui.