Linkages between tourism and agriculture in South Pacific SIDS: the case of Niue
Tourism is playing a growing role in many Pacific Island economies. Even in the smallest MIRAB (Migration, Remittances, Aid and Bureaucracy) economies, tourism is seen as an area of policy significance by governments and donors. One area that is often highlighted as having potential to enhance the local benefits of tourism is the creation of linkages to agriculture. The research question of this thesis is: What is the potential within Niue to create linkages between the tourism and agriculture sectors? Specifically, the research examines the:
• characteristics of tourism and agriculture and their existing linkages, and • constraints to, and facilitators of, tourism–agriculture linkages. The research also explores the: • value of a mixed-methods approach to understanding tourism–agriculture linkages, and • contribution of tourism–agriculture linkages within the contexts of dependency, regulation and MIRAB approaches. The research outcomes will not be specific only to Niue, but will also be relevant for understanding the complexities involved in nurturing tourism–agriculture linkages for other ‘islands’ in the Pacific. There were 284 responses received from the online tourist survey. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 29 growers, 34 tourism operators and 12 government officials. Informal discussions were held with ten elders, three village councillors and 60 tourists in Niue. The current tourism–agriculture linkages in Niue are minimal: there is limited availability of any formalised agriculture- and village-related experiences. This research shows a latent demand for ‘local and unique’ experiences – something that can allow tourists to get a ‘sense of place’ and improve tourism–agriculture linkages incrementally over time. This research highlights that growers can meet some of the demand for local produce that are in season. The increasing number of small-scale tourism enterprises and village projects reflect the participation of Niueans in tourism. Attempts made by the administrators of tourist websites in Niue to provide up-to-date information imply their desire to enhance tourists’ and locals’ experiences of tourism. The governments of both Niue and New Zealand are eager to reduce Niue’s sole reliance on MIRAB by nurturing a yield-based tourism industry. Tourism in Niue will continue to exist as a small-scale activity and its linkages to agriculture will be limited due to its inability to overcome a number of constraints. Inconsistent availability of local produce, lack of supply of tourism experiences, limited promotion of local experiences, and the lack of an overarching strategy hinder tourism–agriculture linkages. Limited fertile soil and water, seasonality of local produce, population decline, heavy dependence on MIRAB, and poor collaboration between stakeholders further compound the barriers to tourism–agriculture linkages. No one theoretical framework is really suited to understanding the potential to nurture tourism–agriculture linkages. This study has attempted to integrate the approaches of MIRAB, dependency and regulation theories in the Niue context. MIRAB approaches show the importance of migration and remittances and add a deeper understanding to the phenomenon of returning Niueans. Regulation theory provides an understanding of visitor demand, networking between small enterprises and the critical role of government in tourism. Dependency theory brings into focus the continued dependent and uneven relationship between the global system and local factors. The integration of these three theoretical approaches shed light on the challenges facing many of the ‘islands’ in the Pacific.