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By Geralinda Warre

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 10) - A visiting European tourism promoter said Papua New Guinea’s reliance on a single airline is a major obstacle to tourism development.

Robert Cleverdon, a tourism promoter and team leader of Proinvest, said PNG needs more than just one airline for tourists, especially from Europe.

Mr Cleverdon is a member of a team of tourism consultants currently traveling throughout the South Pacific to begin preparatory work for a partnership meeting with European investors.

He was in the country for four days and left for Solomon Islands last week.

Mr Cleverdon also bemoaned the high cost of air travel in PNG.

He said Air Niugini fares are so exorbitant that it could certainly be a good reason for putting off tourists and investors from coming into the country.

For a return flight from Sydney to Port Moresby on an Air Niugini flight, it would cost AUS$2,838 or K5,546 (US$1,716).

"In comparison to Air Pacific fares it was cheaper to travel from Sydney to Fiji and back," said Mr Cleverdon.

He said if PNG had more than one airline operating to international destinations, this could offer alternative air access, and maybe cheaper travel, into PNG by tourists.

Mr Cleverdon is the Pacific Team Coordinator of the Proinvest Scheme, a programme of the ACP Group and the European Commission for the promotion of investment in the Pacific.

Proinvest plans to hold a meeting in February next year (2005) in Fiji, to promote investment partnership agreements on a one to one basis.

Up to 200 participants from the Pacific and the EU will be invited to the meeting.

It is expected to generate a number of cooperation agreements between companies from the Pacific, the European Union and other regions.

"From now until mid-May, the team will be visiting Papua New Guinea and 13 other Pacific countries which are members of the ACP, to create awareness and promote the Proinvest Scheme and the Partnership Meeting," said Mr Cleverdon.

The Proinvest Scheme involves the identification, selection and the preparation of Pacific Tourism projects likely to attract enterprise partners and investors from the EU.

The team will discuss the partnership concept and assist promoters in preparing their projects for presentation to interested potential partners and investors during the meeting.

"We would like to hear from tourism operators who wish to expand or redevelop their existing projects or want to undertake new projects," said Mr Cleverdon.

The project ideas will have to be screened, analyzed critically and economically before being short-listed for approval for finding.

He said a 50,000 Euro partnership package (about K200,000) is offered for a project whereby 25,000 Euros will be put up by the Proinvest Scheme and the other half by other partner investors.

"I see this as an excellent opportunity to promote tourism investment in the Pacific and I would encourage tourism operators in PNG to take advantage of it," said South Pacific Tourism Organizations chief executive officer Lisiate A’alolo.

The SPTO is the Pacific counterpart of the Proinvest Program.

May 11, 2004

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