PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Sept. 21) – The Papua New Guinea Civil Aviation Authority should explain why it has stopped the newly-established direct flights from Tokua in East New Britain to Honiara.

This new service is gaining popularity and support from people in East New Britain as well as other Island region ports who want to take advantage of the service to visit the Solomon Islands. Now CAA has directed that the flights be re-routed through Port Moresby without providing any explanation to the passengers.

Organisers of the flights are angry at the CAA decision — and rightly so. They have worked hard for so long to promote tourism in East New Britain and this decision is a slap in their face. The East New Britain Provincial Government, the business community and the people there deserve an explanation from the management of CAA about this decision which will have a major negative impact on tourism.

CAA’s decision is contrary to the Government’s policy of encouraging tourism and will also affect the profitability of the Tokua-Honiara route.

The question that should be raised is whether CAA is acting in the best interests of Papua New Guinea in making this decision.

It is time for CAA to start thinking positively about encouraging more direct flights from provinces to overseas destinations.

Many tourists prefer to travel directly to destinations away from Port Moresby and CAA should start looking at this seriously to promote the tourism and travel industry in the country.

It is time to open up PNG to international travel and allow direct flights from overseas destinations into the country to create more jobs for the growing number of unemployed young Papua New Guineans who leave school in the thousands each year.

The tourism industry can absorb many but the Government and agencies such as CAA must be prepared to take the hard decisions to promote growth. We are nearly 30 years old as a nation but still have only one international port for air travellers. It is a joke.

September 21, 2004

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