QANTAS URGED TO PROMOTE PAPUA NEW GUINEA TOURISM

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Feb. 7, 2000 – The National)---Papua New Guinea Tourism Authority acting chairman Peter Barter has called on the Australian international carrier Qantas to contribute more to the development of the tourism industry in Papua New Guinea.

Mr. Barter said in a statement in Port Moresby that for the past 20 years, Qantas had enjoyed a profitable route between Australia and PNG, during which time the route had been described as one of the best yielding it has operated.

This was due to establishing abnormally high promotional airfares brought about by lack of competition, Mr. Barter said.

Mr. Barter added that Qantas to a large extent had sat back and enjoyed the high airfares without making any real attempt to help PNG promote its tourist potential.

"This is clearly unacceptable and it is important for Qantas to accept the fact that we expect greater participation in the dissemination of accurate information along with direct involvement in promotional activities to support the work of Air Niugini, the PNG Tourist Authority and the industry," Mr. Barter said.

He said he was aware of a Qantas poster being produced last year but this he said was an isolated case and obviously done to appease PNG. This was, however, not enough, he said.

"Qantas is a very sophisticated organization that has a world network and sales offices that could be of enormous benefit to disseminating information on PNG," said Mr. Barter.

"They also have their own in-house tour operating company and affiliated with many more that could help Air Niugini, the PNG Tourist Authority and tour operators become established in many ways and, at the same time, increase the traffic carried on Qantas and Air Niugini."

Mr. Barter said that in the past few years there had been a general decrease in general tourism traffic to PNG.

While some increase has been recorded in the number of divers visiting PNG, the average tourist who has many destinations to choose from was simply not choosing to visit PNG, he said.

One of the main deterrents was the lack of information available on the country, the 'travelers alerts' produced by various governments warning of dangers in visiting PNG, but at the same time failing to state the areas that were perfectly safe to visit.

Mr. Barter said that it appeared that Qantas were being guided by the media reports in Australia, which often reflected a bad image of PNG.

"While it would be foolish of me to say we have no crime problems, it is quite possible for visitors to travel safely through PNG, most of whom are not aware that a crime problem exists," he said.

"The responsibility to improve the image of PNG rests with us all, but it is important that foreign airlines serving Papua New Guinea participate with the various authorities and industry to help improve the image of Papua New Guinea, which remains one of the most exciting destinations to visit in the world," Mr. Barter said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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