Apec spurs growth in tourism


The year 2019 will be a big one for tourism in Papua New Guinea.
The tourism industry, riding on the back of Apec 2018 and a record 2019 budget of K50m, has ambitious plans to grow.
“For the first time, since independence, tourism has been given a substantial amount of money: K50 million for development,” says Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive officer Jerry Agus.
“Together with recurrent budget and other World Bank funding, it’s around K67 million.
“That’s a massive budget for TPA.
“However, getting a lot of money from Government doesn’t mean that it will translate automatically to more tourists coming in 2019 and onwards.”
Agus says high costs and ease of getting visas should be addressed.
He says the money will be spent on product development, and marketing and promotion.
Agus says capacity development will also be worked on with training institutions.
Just two weeks ago, National Planning and Monitoring Minister, Richard Maru, gives K1 million to TPA to develop more tourism products in the country.
Agus says the challenge is timely as the TPA has already prioritised product development as one of its core tourism sector development programmes for 2019.
“We will be working with our industry partners and key stakeholders to develop new and existing tourism products that not only meet international standards but more importantly provide satisfaction and a lasting impression for our international visitors,” he says.
Agus said TPA has already signed MoUs with several provincial governments and other development partners that are keen to develop attractive tourism products.
“For the first time in a long time, provincial governments and district development authorities are eager to partner with TPA to develop tourism in their respective areas and that is something we are keen to start implementing in 2019 onwards,” he says.
Maru had issued the challenge for TPA to develop new tourism products and increase tourism numbers when he presented the K1 million to TPA under the National Government’s Tourism Sector Development Initiative.
Agus says TPA has done a lot of product scoping and awareness in the past 12 months in provinces such as New Ireland, Bougainville, East New Britain, Milne Bay, West New Britain, Morobe, Madang, Western Highlands, Eastern Highlands and East Sepik.
He says several provinces and districts have already earmarked funding which TPA will also support with relevant resources.
Agus says the World Bank-funded K60 million tourism hub development programmes for East New Britain and Milne Bay provinces is already in implementation mode since September 2018 and that will continue with more impact projects to be delivered this year.
He says challenge for TPA and the National Government is for all other agencies of State and key stakeholders including resource owners to work together to develop tourism, especially in the areas of law-and-order, visa processing, high cost of travel and the general attitudes and decorum of our citizens.
A new TPA board announced by Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture Emil Tammur will drive the tourism agenda in 2019.
Tammur says he has great confidence in the board “as it represents well a cross-section of the tourism sector with its members also bringing lots of experience both in the public and private sectors to drive the National Government’s tourism development initiatives”.
“The Government is keen on progressing major developments initiatives in the tourism sector and a very sound and experienced membership at the board level will greatly assist the Tourism Promotion Authority in meeting the Government’s objectives for growth in the tourism sector,” Tammur says.
He says several of the board members are reappointed for a second term while the rest of the members are new but have been significant players in the industry over many years.
The TPA board members were confirmed by the NEC of Jan 15, 2019, following recommendations from the Ministerial Executive Appointments Committee and will serve a term of two years.
They include:
*Jackson Zabala representing the hoteliers industry;
* Highlands-based tour operator Pym Mamindi representing tour operators;
*CEO of Air Niugini Alan Milne representing the national airline of PNG;
*Private accountant Edward Uma representing banks and financial institutions;
*Goroka Show chairlady Keryn Hargreaves for tourist attractions;
*Toea Julius Chan representing the commuter and charter airline industry;
* Gregory Wong for the national tourism industry; and
* Sioni Sioni representing tourism development generally.
Ex-officio members to the TPA board include the Finance Department Secretary or his proxy and the CEO of TPA Jerry Agus.
Nawaeb MP Kennedy Wenge automatically assumes the role of TPA board chairman by virtue of him being the chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Tourism Arts and Culture and as per the TPA Act of 1993.
The newly-appointed TPA board will hold its first meeting at the end of this month to formally endorse the TPA 2019 budget and the authority’s major planned activities for the year.