THE Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) has introduced a commercial operators licence to regulate companies or individuals operating tourism-related business within the Kokoda Track corridor.
This means that a licenced operator will now be bound by basic regulations aimed at benefiting the operator, the trekker, porters, guides and track communities.
To qualify for a licence, tour operators will be required to prove that they are a PNG-registered company or have an acceptable arrangement if they are foreign-based operators.
“There are other requirements like having to carry a first aid kit on the track and have a certified first aid person as part of the trekking expedition.”
A Kokoda Track tour operators’ forum was held in Port Moresby last week to introduce the new licencing concept to the operators and make them aware of the requirements to become a licenced Kokoda Track operator.
The forum was conducted by KTA with assistance from the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority to take the tour operators through KTA’s track maintenance programmes and new livelihood pilot projects.
Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd’s special envoy on the Kokoda initiative Sandy Hollway, who was in PNG on an official visit, attended the forum and applauded KTA’s efforts in organising the forum and its work for track communities.
“We have come a long way in our efforts to improve the livelihood of communities along the track and this can only improve for the better with further developments or joint understandings on the Kokoda Track,” he said.
Mr Hollway said there was a scope for communities to participate in micro businesses that could generate income and this could be driven by such organisations as the Kokoda track tour operators.
Under the commercial operators licence, tour operators are required to be registered with IPA or have a PNG business connection that is registered with IPA if they are overseas-based operators.
They will also be required to ensure only 25kg of weight is carried by the track porters and have within their company trained and certified first aid operators.
Only licenced operators will be issued trekking permits by KTA.
The forum also heard that faults at the Mt Fala repeater station had been attended to and communications along the track would return to normalcy.