Imagine a third weekly flight into Niue. If it was possible, what would be the implications?
This was the focus of a survey carried out in Niue by a Tourism planning company which has been closely working with Niue’s Tourism.
Alistair Hanchman is a consultant from the Tourism recreation conservation and has worked with Niue Tourism for a number of years assisting with strategic planning.
A survey was recently carried out with the question “What would be the implications of a third weekly flight into Niue?”
“What we did is we looked at a lot of the data, migration data and Air New Zealand passenger loadings and that type of information and we spoke to a lot of businesses around town and asking them about how would they respond to an increase in the number of flights.” said Hanchman
“ There’s a number of implications i suppose from a third flight , one is that instead of two plane days a week, you’ll have three plane days and they’re busy days on the island and there’s changeover days for the accommodation premises so that’s a big commitment for people to put that energy into changing over for new customers.
The other implication is that, back in the days when there was just one flight a week, customers had to stay for seven days or fourteen days, now that we’ve got two flights a week, people can just visit the island for just three days or five days or seven days, there’s a whole range of options for them and that increases the complexity and cost for business operators and moving to a third flight that would further increase the number of options for people staying.”
“Some operators expressed concern that if that were to occur then they might miss out on longer bookings because they’ve committed to a three days booking so they might miss out on a seven days booking something like that, somebody’s trying to do later. One of the other issues is that already in Niue, there’s a big difference between the peak season over July – August when the island is pretty well full and the low seasons. With the third flight having increased capacity there’s a possibility that difference between the low season and the peak season which is about 50 percent so there’s twice as many people here on high season as low season could further increase so flights might be full during the peak season but then there’s a big difference and that makes implication for people in terms of investing in their business , investing in new beds and accommodation , investing in rental cars all that sort of thing because if you’re not utilizing those investments throughout the whole year then its much more difficult to make that investment decision” he added
The survey found that one of the challenges facing the hospitality industry is labour supply
“There’s a shortage of labour and there’s a shortage of specialized skilled labour and already people are having to import labour from other countries around the Pacific and Southeast Asia and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed so that tourism in Niue can continue to grow, there’s a number of challenges in building skills of local people or encouraging expat Niueans back to work and invest in the country”
After several issues being raised through the survey, it concluded a third flight is not feasible.
“ Our recommendation out of that analysis was that we recommended that a third flight is not appropriate at this time and that there are other options to consider including moving to a larger plane for one or both the two weekly flights and that could incrementally increase the number of people without the big impact and risk of establishing a third flight and a number of those other matters needed to be addressed in terms of the seasonality , trying to encourage more people to come in the shoulder seasons that type of thing , addressing those labour market issues.” said Hanchman