By PETER WARI
IMBONGGU MP and Works Minister Francis Awesa has praised locals from Oiyarep who sacrificed to build a cultural and tourist centre in the district.
The Owimi Toursim Centre in the outskirts of Mendi town was opened last Friday and the first lot of tourists from Italy arrived to witness an event organised by the community.
Awesa gave K50,000 through the district development authority (DDA) for the centre but work exceeded the amount of money and Awesa was happy.
Awesa said people should stop the “handout mentality” of following politicians around and should get involved in activities that would generate income.
He said the establishment of the culture and tourism centre was vital as it would offer traditional and cultural experience for people and tourists.
He said it was an important centre because tourism could bring real sense of pride and identity to communities and by showcasing distinct characteristics of PNG’s way of life, history and culture. Tourism could encourage preservation of traditions which may be at risk of dying out.
“Tourism has become an important sector that has an impact on the development of a country’s economy and the province was not doing enough to attract tourists,” Awesa said.
“The job created by tourism can act as a vital incentive to reduce emigration from rural areas.
“Local people can also increase their influence on tourism development as well as improve their job and earnings prospects through tourism-related professional training and development of business and organisational skills.”
Owimi Cultural and Tourism Centre owner and director Vincent Meta, said it took him 15 years to make his dream come through.
“The Imbonggu DDA saw the craving I had to establish the centre and its support gave me confidence to complete the project,” he said.
By PETER WARI