By MALUM NALU
LEADING Madang-based tourism operator Sir Peter Barter says tourism should be shared throughout Papua New Guinea and not centralised in Port Moresby.
He said last week that the Lukim PNG show and conference in Port Moresby – organised by the PNG Travel Association with the support of PNG Tourism Promotion Authority – “continues the phobia that everything must happen in Port Moresby”.
TPA chief executive officer Jerry Agus said the main reason for hosting Lukim PNG 2016 in Port Moresby was the cost factor.
“Whilst the concept of Lukim PNG is excellent, and certainly the need for everyone to the more proactive in promoting tourism, it is equally important for such national and international events to be shared by other provinces throughout PNG,” Sir Peter said.
“(This is) so those attending domestically and internationally can experience what lies beyond NCD in the real PNG – which is the prime objective of visiting PNG.”
Sir Peter said he and many others were concerned over the over-exposure of Port Moresby at the expense of the rest of PNG.
“We continue to see and hear of new hotels, convention centres being built, freeways, sports facilities – all of which concentrate development for the lucky few who live in NCD whilst the provinces are being starved of conferences, domestic and international tourism,” he said.
“It also provided the perception that NCD is like the rest of PNG – both good and bad – but as we all know a tourist to PNG does not visit PNG to stay in five-star high-rise hotels; they come to seek new experiences, destinations that remain natural in an environment unmatched anywhere else in the Pacific.
“Most tourists’ main aim is to bypass Port Moresby on their way to Milne Bay, Rabaul, Madang, the Sepik and Highlands and these are the safest and most-interesting destinations away from the cities and townships with all the problems.
Sir Peter said that in the past, all tourist conferences were held in the provinces and they attracted up to 300 domestic and 100 or so international tour operators “all of whom were given the chance to experience the different regions, cultures, diving, surfing, kayaking that makes PNG such an ideal tourist destination”.
By MALUM NALU