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Safe, happy PNG

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By MALUM NALU
THE Fifa Under-20 women’s soccer World Cup has lifted the country’s profile as a safe tourist destination – thanks to the many messages on social media by players and officials, an official says.
Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive officer Jerry Agus told The National that the three-week tournament in Port Moresby involving 16 countries – including PNG – had “raised the profile of the country as a tourist destination in a big way”.
“The negative image perception about PNG was there. But once the players, team officials and Fifa officials came, they realised that this was a country completely opposite to what was portrayed in the media and on the internet,” Agus said.
“They saw that people were friendly, people were waving to them, everybody wanted to give a helping hand in everything. Everything was completely different from what they had read and heard about Papua New Guinea.
“Most of them used social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post every now and then about Papua New Guinea – how friendly the people are and about our cultural diversity as well.
“Most of them were not only fascinated but also stunned by what they saw – a small place with many different cultures and traditions.”
Agus said this yesterday as the international sports event, arguably the biggest so far hosted by the country, prepared for the grand final tomorrow between North Korea and France.
He said many of the players and officials initially had reservations about coming to PNG.
“Our people were very friendly. This really helped to send out a positive image to the world – that it’s a friendly country, with so many things to see and do and is a desired tourism destination,” he said.
“We would encourage more events of similar nature. It’s only by hosting such events that we can prove our critics wrong.”
He said while there were some issues regarding law and order still to be addressed, “there are worse activities happening in other countries”.
Meanwhile PNG has been given a huge vote-of-confidence by being selected as one of the National Geographic Traveler’s 21 “Best of the World” destinations for 2017.
“The selection process was competitive and involved nominations from National Geographic Traveler’s worldwide network of editors, writers and explorers,” the magazine said in a letter to the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority.

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