Niue’s official Dark Sky recognition is set to provide a significant economic opportunity for the country with a growing global interest in ‘Astro-tourism’.
Niue has become the world’s first whole country recognized as a ‘Dark Sky Place’ by the International Dark-Sky Association.
The title recognizes an area with exceptional quality of starry nights and a commitment to protecting the nocturnal environment.
Such dark-sky area designations aim to restrict artificial light pollution so that night skies can be observed and enjoyed to their fullest potential.
Tourism Niue chief executive Felicity Bollen says Niue now had a dark-sky community and two dark-sky sanctuaries.
Celebrations were held on Saturday night at the Niue highschool hall to mark the island’s milestone achievement.
Niue now has dark-sky status from the southern edge of Mutalau Village to the northern edge of Hakupu Village.
Andre Siohane, of the Ministry of Infrastructure in Niue, said the government was committed to the protection, management and enhancement of the nation’s dark skies.
Bollen said dark skies and dark-sky tourism became one of the hottest trends last year. She said people could travel to Niue to admire the dark sky, and learn about the culture and the mythology from the people who lived on the land.
Bollen said they had trained “dark-sky ambassadors” who had set up business in the villages and would take tours around the country.
New Zealand couple Richard and Gendie Somerville-Ryan researched and wrote Niue’s application, after having previously carried out a successful bid for Great Barrier Island to become a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
Somerville-Ryan said the journey to protect the island’s pristine night skies began in mid-2018 when they formed a small team with Niue Tourism.