Southern Highlands urged to do more to attract tourists

Highlands

SOUTHERN Highlands should do more to attract tourists, Vincent Meta says.
Meta, the owner of the Owimi Toursim and Cultural Center, told The National that tourism was an important industry which had an impact on the development of a country’s economy.
He said the job created by tourism could act as an incentive to reduce emigration from rural areas.
He said the province used to be a tourist destination but now only a few tourists made their way to the province.
“There is no availability of investment to develop the necessary infrastructure to supply the needs of tourists,” he said.
He said tourists used to come for mountain climbing at Mt Giluwe  – the second highest mountain in the country – diving and fishing at Lake Kutubu and collection of artifacts in remote areas.
He plans to register the tourism centre with the Tourism Promotion Authority.
“Everyone has a role to play to make the province a safe place for tourists to come and to preserve our unique culture and tradition that is slowly dying out,” he said.
He said tourism was an engine for development through foreign exchange earnings and the creation of direct and indirect employment.
“We are not serious with the important sector and we should manage it with a strong focus,” Meta said.
“Tourism can directly benefit the poor people in tourism enterprises, by providing goods and services to tourists.”
The Owimi Tourism Cultural Center on the outskirts of Mendi town was opened late last year and it was witnessed by tourists from Italy.
Meta, a Grade 8 dropout, said it took him 15 years to set up the center.

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