Public-Private Partnership To Improve Access To Pohnpei Waterfall

Effort to rehabilitate trails to Kepirohi Falls should increase tourism

By Bill Jaynes

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (Kaselehlie Press, Sept. 2, 2016) – At 2:00 this afternoon the Pohnpei State Government entered into its second Public-Private Sector Partnership with the owners of the Kepirohi Falls landmark In Pohnpei.

The first Public-Private Sector Partnership was with the owners of the Lididuhniap Falls last July. Work has neared completion on that site and an inaugural tour will be offered to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders next Tuesday.

The core of the Kepirohi Falls agreement involve repair of the trails and provision of recreational facility in order to attract substantially more visitors, both local and international.

The heart of the matter is that access to both these falls, as well as most of the other 40 waterfalls in Pohnpei is dangerous or virtually impossible for the target tourist community of the 50+ demographic.

It is this group that has the time and money to visit Pohnpei.

Once renovated, with greatly improved trails, stairways, picnic huts, observation deck/ rest station, toilets and signs the expectation is that the visitor count will at least double during the first year, and double again in each of the years going forward.

In order to promote increased visitations the Pohnpei Office of Tourism will produce a special "Waterfall World' brochure and web campaign to broadcast to the world, the beauty and accessibility of these two most popular Pohnpei waterfalls.

The beneficiaries will be the entire population of Pohnpei in terms of increased employment due to additional expenditures of the visitors on tours, accommodation, and food & beverages. It is likely that the demand for Cultural Tourism, in terms of annual performances, will increase as well.

Also, the agreement signals the first time that the Government will expect a small promotional fee from each admission in order to cover the cost of an ongoing international and domestic campaign to promote these falls.

The waterfall owners agree to pay 10 percent of all revenues collected from visitors which will then be invested in the production of brochures and internet marketing campaigns. The State of Pohnpei, Office of Tourism and the falls owners also agree on the admission prices. In addition, the owners agree to maintain the trails,

observation deck and the toilets, at their own expense.

Assuming success, the Public-Private Sector Partnership (PPP) concept will serve as an organizational development model for the renovation and promotion of the remaining falls going forward for real sustainability here.

“Again, we are excited about this concept, as it will help build the capacity of the rural community and the government, to continue to develop and maintain the other valuable tourist attractions in Pohnpei,” said Marshall Ferrin, Aid Coordinator for the State. “We also expect such a project to attract attention from the other FSM states in this regard.”

“Most importantly, we believe that introducing improved management of these two major natural attractions will empower the community, as well as the owners, to assume a much more advanced stewardship role than is currently in place,” he said.

The Government is funding training for the owner representatives by the Entrepreneurship Center of the College of Micronesia to operate the fall attractions as small businesses. At present, both falls present a hazard to human life and have fallen in key places, into a state of neglect and disrepair. It is only through creating conditions that enable the community to appreciate the natural wonder of these falls that people will block any pollution via the runoff from piggeries that border the rivers that flow into some of the falls.

“We see that by improving the falls attraction we will create a community recreational experience that will ensure their conservation going forward", Ferrin said.

The Kaselehlie Press
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