In front of the Atiu tourism information office. Shown from L-R Tauu Porio dividend recipient, Teina Toru Atiu Villa employee, Jacqueline Tanga Atiu Villas new Manager, Mareta Atetu Tourism Officer, Ardmore Manu dividend recipient and Ngamata Iona dividend recipient
The dividend is based on each visitor staying at Atiu Villas contributing $5 for each night they stay at into a fund. This resulted in a dividend of $25 per person and we all hope that by sharing this fund in this way the goodwill and land access will continue into the future.
Previous years dividends have been $22, $24, $29 and this year it is $25.
$25 may not seem like a lot but for an Atiuan family of 8 it is $200. It all helps to make Atiu one of the friendliest islands to visit. And who knows may even help convince our most precious tourism asset, our people, to stay on Atiu.
There has been a positive response from Atiu Villas guests with many expressing gratitude that they had a way to contribute back to the many people of Atiu that afforded them such friendly hospitality. Some even asked to contribute more and their contributions were added to the Atiu tourism dividend fund.
(If other accommodators throughout the Cook Islands did the same it would be about $450 per Cook Island resident or $3,600 for that family of eight. Even more incentive for our people to stay in the Cook Islands).
In some ways this dividend is an experiment that will find out whether Atiu's landowners will continue to allow our guest to walk all over their lands, use their beaches and enter their caves. For some time we have had on Atiu three groups of landowners that charge our guests for walking over their lands. They started charging many years before we started the tourism dividend. These landowners did not share in the dividend this year as they are already making money from tourism. The question for these landowners is whether sharing in the dividend is a better option than charging for access to their land.