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PNG tourism officials unhappy

By Harlyne Joku PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 19, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), an ethnic clash in Bulolo has thrown a planned trip by 14 Australian tourists to walk the Black Cat Trek at Bulolo, Morobe Province into disarray.

[PIR editor’s note: Bulolo is a town in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province, on the northern coast of the country’s main peninsula. ]

The trekkers, who arrived in Port Moresby on Sunday, were supposed to fly out the next day to Bulolo but their flight was cancelled indefinitely due to the clash. John Miles from tour group Executive Excellence said the 14 trekkers - mostly Australian executives - were disappointed about the cancelled tour. "They are executives who physically trained for weeks to walk the track and are enthusiastic to learn about PNG’s rich culture, history and people. They are very disappointed that the tour is cancelled," Mr. Miles said.

"If we do come back again in future is it going to be okay?" Mr. Mile asked. The trekkers will return to Australia on the morning flight.

The incident has prompted a concerned PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) to make a strong call to law enforcement agencies and leaders at all levels of society to seriously address the escalating law and order problems in the country.

PNG TPA chief executive officer Peter Vincent said in a statement yesterday that many important economic developments, especially tourism-related activities, were being affected daily as a result of the law and order problems.

Mr. Vincent said the ethnic fighting in Bulolo was a point in case.

"The trekkers are now sitting in Port Moresby basically doing nothing while awaiting their return flight to Australia on Wednesday," he said. "The PNGTPA is concerned that the fragile image of PNG tourism overseas is being further tarnished by such unwanted incidents and every attempt should be made by relevant law enforcement agencies, stakeholders and leaders to address this problem."

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