Earlier this month, Atiu Villas owners Roger and Kura Malcolm paid out a tourism dividend to all those Atiuans not receiving revenue from within the tourism industry for their continued goodwill. The dividend payment, which started in 2013, was also made for allowing Atiu Villa's guests free access to residents’ beaches, caves, lands, lake and plantations.
Roger Malcolm said the dividend was based on each visitor staying at Atiu Villas contributing $5 for each night they stay, into a fund. This year, it resulted in a dividend of $25 per person. Previous year’s dividends have been $22, $24 and $29.
“We all hope that by sharing this fund in this way, the goodwill and land access will continue into the future,” Malcolm said. “$25 may not seem like a lot but for an Atiuan family of eight 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.” Malcolm said they had received a positive response from Atiu Villas’ guests, with many expressing gratitude that there was a way to contribute back to the many people of Atiu who had given them such friendly hospitality.
Some even asked to contribute more and their contributions were added to the Atiu tourism dividend fund, he said.
“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 who charge our guests for walking over their land.
“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.”