By MALUM NALU
HOSTING a large event is a massive undertaking although holding cities can receive a boost in economic, social and cultural benefits. With PNG – more than often getting bad press overseas over law and order issues having a world-class sports event happening on its soil was just the opportunity needed to show that it is a relatively safe place and has more to offer than just serving visitors.
Businesses, small and big, try to cash in on the influx of visitors. Hosting international teams and officials for the Fifa Under 20 (U20) Women’s World Cup has been a massive challenge for the newly-opened Stanley Hotel & Suites, however, it has passed the test with flying colours.
Adjoining RH Vision City Mega Mall has also joined in the World Cup party by catering for hundreds of visitors from all over the world this month.
Players wandered freely through Vision City as excited fans surrounded them for pictures which were posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media.
Shops did a roaring trade in tickets, t-shirts and other paraphernalia.
Outside the mega mall, those who had done their shopping could shoot the breeze, and watch games live on a big screen.
The World Cup had indeed come to town. The hotel, which was only opened last month, has had its baptism of fire by accommodating four of the 16 teams, over 70 referees, close to 100 Fifa personnel and local organising committee members.
It has been no mean feat, the hotel’s general-manager, Geoff Haigh, said early this week, as the curtain prepares to come down on an event which has showcased Papua New Guinea in a new light to the world.
“The Fifa U20 Women’s World Cup has been the most-enjoyable and exciting experience to work through,” Haigh told The National.
“We have accommodated four teams, over 70 referees, close to 100 Fifa administration personnel plus a number of local organising committee members for the entire tournament.”
An army, of course, doesn’t march on an empty stomach or with dirty linen.
“The hotel as produced over 28,000 meals, cleaned 12,000 rooms and washed over 10 tonnes of laundry,” Haigh added.
“The staff have loved every second of this, albeit they are very tired now, but no one wants this to end.
“The hotel will operate at 80 per cent for the month, which is a phenomenal feat for such a new hotel.
“There have been a few challenges along the way, but this has been a great test for the hotel and the staff, and I believe both have come through this in great shape.”
The bigger picture has been the portrayal of Port Moresby and PNG to the world, and especially with APEC 2018 just around the turn.
“More importantly, this has been a great event for Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea,” Haigh said.
“Everyone involved should be proud to have produced such a world class event here.
“We are all looking forward to the next event, and hope it will be as much fun and as successful as this has been.”
At Ela Beach last Sunday morning, National Capital District Governor, Powes Parkop, was grinning from ear-to-ear, as he gave kudos to city residents for the success of the Fifa U20 Women’s World Cup so far.
He said after his weekly walk-forlife and yoga-for-life that the event would long be remembered as one that brought the world to Papua New Guinea.
“I think we all will agree that we did well-and-above expectations,” Parkop said.
“The testimony of Fifa and the players speaks for itself.
“They have gone to U20 World Cup tournaments in other places but have not received this kind of reception.
“We made it very exceptional for them here.”
Parkop said the visitors had been made welcome since they arrived in the country with cheerleaders from various settlements assigned to each team.
“Here in PNG, we made an exception, we made a difference, we made something that has never been done anywhere in the world,” Parkop said.
“We provided support to all the teams and that’s been really appreciated.”
He said PNG had a bad reputation overseas but the country could now stand proud after hosting the event.
“The World Cup will come and go but its legacy will live on,” Parkop said.
“We will continue to think about the World Cup, this time in our history, a time when the world came to Papua New Guinea.
“We will continue to remember Mexico scoring, Korea scoring, Japan scoring, the USA losing and so on.
“This is something that will live on forever.
“It has also brought wider benefits to us.”
Parkop said the success of the tournament would not have been possible without the cooperation of all city residents and thanked all.
By MALUM NALU