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              A Travel Guide about Niue Island in the South Pacific

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Economy of Niue

As a free-associated with New Zealand Niue uses the New Zealand Dollar (NZ$) as currency. Niue is a cash society meaning you will need to arrive with plenty of cash in your pocket or take some travel checks and exchange them at the only bank in Alofi. You can count in one hand the number of places that accept credit cards. You'll need cash for most expenses including for accommodation ( Matavai Hotel is one of the few places that accepts credit cards). Anyway, caring cash is not a problem in Niue due the fact the crime is almost unexistent. (We've seen a local guy caring a transparent bag full of cash while walking on the pavement and he was as relaxed as walking in Fort Knox). So, don't forget to take some cash with you to Niue or you may end up sleeping in a cave and hunting Ugas for food.

Niue produces very few things to trade with the rest of the world and what Nuie produces is not the common things found in other Pacific Islands such as bananas, coconuts, copra, meat, etc. Niue commercially produces only 3 forms of income at the present (2007): Noni Juice, Fish Export and Tourism. There are some other experimental things going on in Niue such as experimental plantations of Vanilla (photo) and other plants, but up until recently nothing is strong enough to gain demand in the international market. The Stamps of Niue are very collectable and show nice designs. But Niue still depends pretty much on New Zealand to survive, including the money Niueans in New Zealand send home to their families. The Imports of Niue by the other side surpasses the exports by far. Exports in 1999 were only $137,200, while its imports were $2.38 million. The total GDP was $7.6 million in 2000 and the GDP per capita $3,600 (The World Fact book Niue).

  Almost everything you eat in Niue comes by sea transport. Once a month a ship from New Zealand bring cars, car parts, fuel, tin food, frozen foods, baking flower, electronics, beverages, construction materials, and anything else necessary to sustain a modern life. Niue has no port, just a wharf where the download operation is done. It takes a full day because the ship has to be moored outside in open waters so the ship's cranes passes the containers and products to a smaller barge. At the wharf, another crane take the product from the barge and put them on trucks to be distributed. Only when the ship gets lighter enough can it dock to finish the operation. If for some reason the sea gets too wild, the operation has to be cancelled and people in Niue will run out of many things.

The Noni Juice is the only commercial plantation in Niue at the moment. The fruit is processed into juice regarded as having good health properties. A lot of money was invested in a Noni fruit farm and juice factory. There are other smaller farms such as coconut plantation, but in a commercial scale it is considered very small. The Taro plant and root is exported to New Zealand basically to nearly 20.000 Niueans living over there.

The Fish export resulted from a joint venture between Niue government and the company Reef Group from New Zealand. The idea is to explore the immense resources of fisheries in Niue's waters processing the fish on the Island to export it already clean and cut. (one of the best fish we've ever had)

Tourism is under-developed in my opinion, but at the same time it is the biggest income for Niue. The potential of the Island to attract tourists is huge, but it is brought down by the lack of flights to the Island together with the lack of knowledge from people around the world about Niue. Air New Zealand is the only carrier at the moment with one flight a week departing from Auckland at 10:00 PM and arriving at the most inconvenient time possible. To go home is even worse. Think about catching a plane taking off at 3:00 AM! Niue touristicly speaking is a fantastic destination that needs to be discovered. There were only 17 Tourists in our plane in November 2007, which I consider a ridiculous number, especially if taking in account that 2 of these passengers were in Niue for business meetings. Anyway, tourism in Niue is growing and it is very important to the country and its people.

 

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