PAPUA NEW GUINEA MISSING BOAT ON TOURISM

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 31, 2008) – Kagamuga Showgrounds is being prepared for the staging of the Hagen Show with hotels and lodges packed out in advance.

Good news on the surface. But there are indicators that not all is well on the tourism front in Papua New Guinea.

With the Hagen Show, all rooms are booked out and the tourists will share. Not a crisis in itself but a sign that we could not cope with a genuine tourism onslaught.

Officials are expecting 300 overseas tourists for the Kagamuga event.

That is piddling when compared to cultural events like that in other places.

We will never make tourism a major component of our growth as a nation while we are satisfied with 300 visitors to such a magnificent staging as the Hagen Show!

Another factor to be thought of is the habit of provincial and regional groups in bobbing up with cultural shows with only days or weeks advance notice.

If we are staging such shows or festivals only for our own people, that can be coped with.

But if we are really trying to lure overseas visitors, it is hopeless.

Tourism agents in New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo and other places book their customers in two or more years in advance.

People with money to spend want to plan ahead. It doesn’t matter if it is the splendour of Highlands dancing and make-up or the unique shark-calling of New Ireland or even the exotic Sepik River cultures . . . if we tell folks a month or so before the event, we will not get the tourists from overseas.

We must plan well ahead, co-ordinate all the local festivals and shows and set specific dates and then use all the media, including internet websites, to alert the international tourism market.

A last factor must be faced: Our air transport, bringing the visitors from overseas and moving them around our country.

We have to offer them, and our own people, a much more reliable air service. People do not want to pay thousands of kina and find they are stranded in places like Moresby when they want to see Tari dancers or shark-callers in their home locales.

Even if Port Moresby, we are running out of decent accommodation when planes are grounded and travellers stranded.

Tourism operators who complained en masse to Air Niugini this week had a worthwhile message. Did it get through?

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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