Association, chiefs ink deal


SURFING Association Papua New Guinea signed an agreement with the chiefs and traditional resource custodians of Pokpok Island and villages of mainland Arawa, Central Bougainville, last week.
The signing is a result of the association carrying out groundwork on the island since 2017 with a donation of 50 surfboards and a series of consultative meetings with the custodians.
The signing of the surf management plan agreement coincided with an awareness workshop by the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority last week.
The workshop was aimed at delivering training and understanding of the plan’s model and policies, which were now being implemented in Central Bougainville to promote surfing and tourism.
This is based on the precedence set by the association in Wewak (East Sepik), Vanimo (West Sepik), Kavieng (New Ireland), Bogia (Madang) and Milne Bay over the last 32 years.
The evolution of the plan is based on the four key pillars of negotiation, planning, implementation and management of the surfing resource that is owned by the host communities.
Association president Andrew Abel said the key to opening new tourism destinations and developing the industry was to interface and work directly with the custodians.
“As PNG marks 46 years next month since gaining independence in 1975, traditional resource custodians across the niche tourism spectrum, including but not limited to Kokoda Trail, have been circumvented and alienated in many areas around PNG in the four key pillars mentioned,” he said.
“This results in the host communities being relegated as mere beggars and bystanders on their traditional land. “Adopting a western-style approach of developing tourism from the top down will never work as it is unsustainable, with very little financial benefits reticulating into the hands of the gatekeepers of the respective tourism sectors.”