Niue becomes the first dark sky nation, boosting tourism prospects

Source: 1News

Niue has been named the world's first country to become a dark sky place due to the island's efforts to restrict artificial light pollution so the starry sky can be enjoyed.

The International Dark Sky Association, which has worked for decades to combat light pollution, has awarded Niue the title after it met certain requirements.

They included government measures such as full streetlight replacement for the whole island and upgrading of private lighting in homes.

The new title is also being driven as a new tourism attraction.

Niue already has a marine reserve, which is 40 per cent of its exclusive economic zone and the government says this new title will aid in the sustainable development of tourism.

"I think it's great for the tourism … they can know we are a small island in the Pacific, but we represent a whole load of things and they can come and see the sky properly," Niuean Dark Sky Ambassador Bailey Pasisi said.

Ambassadors are now being trained to be able to take tourists on guided astro tours to view the night skies.

The new status means Niue's long history of star navigation and cultural history of the night skies can be passed down through the younger generations, like 11-year-old Bailey.

"Now we can learn about Saturn, Betelgeuse, the eight planets, the asteroid belts, the moon, everything in the sky - and the best thing about it is that maybe one day a career for me could be astronomy."

Two telescopes have been left for Niueans who are being trained to conduct dark sky tours, but it's the locals and the generations to come who are the real winners