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Opinion

Cash dividends for Atiu residents

Wednesday 8 December 2021 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in National, Outer Islands

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Cash dividends for Atiu residents
Roger and Kura Malcolm with their staff from Atiu Villas. ATIU VILLAS/ 21120614

A number of people have received their annual tourism dividend pay-out, which aims to help support the people of Atiu who receive no income from tourism.

Atiu Villa’s owners Roger and Kura Malcolm have been paying locals a dividend from their hotel earnings since 2013.

According to the couple, the people of Atiu play an important role in providing their guests with an unforgettable Atiu experience, with every Atiuan becoming a partner in their tourist business.

“The people of Atiu play an extremely important part in giving our guests an unforgettable Atiu experience, the couple said.

“It is not fair that only we and some others in the tourism business make an income from tourism.

“We wanted to say thank you for their help in running Atiu Island as a tourist destination.”

In appreciation for their fellow residents, the couple have contributed $5 for each night a tourist stays at Atiu Villas for 2020 and 2021, with the pay-out for 2020 carried forward.

The total amount generated for 2021 is $8945, which works out as $25.70 per person.

Atiu residents receive their dividend cheques. ATIU VILLAS/ 21120615

However, the couple say this is only up by a small amount from previous years due to Covid-19. 

“The year of 2020 was a terrible year where the world went into lockdown due to Coronavirus and no tourists or visitors could come onto our shores to see our beautiful island of the birds.

“Although 2021 is the same as 2020 (at least) this year we saw our island fill up with our local visitors from Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia, and other Pa Enua islands, and this has allowed us to have a dividend for this year.”

The couple says most of what has been collected already has come from the Southern Group’s 6-night tours initiated by Island Hopper Vacations and other brief periods when the international border was open.

In return for the $25 dividend, the people of Atiu have agreed to continue welcoming Atiu Villa’s guests and allowing them free access to all their land, caves, beaches, and lagoons.

However, the couple says that certain conditions needed to be met before residents could receive the pay-out.

“The dividend will only be shared evenly among every adult, child, and baby in a family that is not making any money from tourism, and who is a resident on Atiu for at least half of 2021,” they said.

“They must also allow Atiu Villas guests to walk over their land without charging, and assist guests around the island as necessary as well as be friendly and welcome them to the island.”

According to the couple, the people of Atiu that do not meet the criteria for receiving the dividend are those who do not help make Atiu a desirable tourism destination and who already make money from tourism.

These include accommodation and restaurant owners, tour operators, and any person making more than $1000 per year from tourism.

It also includes landowners who are unfriendly and charge tourists for walking over their land, beaches, the lagoon, and lake, as well as the Marae and visiting their cave.

People who litter or throw rubbish on the side of the road will also not receive the dividend.

The dividend from Atiu Villas can be collected from the Tourism Information Office on Atiu between the hours of 8.00 am and 12.00 pm, from December 1, 2021, until January 31, 2022. 

Every person over the age of 12 must sign for their payment, and those under the age of 12 or incapable of signing themselves must have a parent or guardian sign on their behalf.

Payment for the dividend will be made by cheque and can be banked into the Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) or used for purchases at the Aria Mai Store, Ezra Store, and Vodafone or Kura’s Kitchen.

Those receiving the tourism dividend pay-out include Piri Ratouna, Mayor Nooroa Paratainga, Ezekiela Patukura of Atiu Upoko Kanga fame, Kimiora George, and baby Moana George.  At the desk are Ana Katu (Atiu Villas), Mareta Atetu (Tourism Officer) and beaming above, General Manager of Atiu Villas, Jackey Matakino.