Kulang: Critique good

The National, Monday July 11th, 2016

MINISTER for Tourism, Arts and Culture Tobias Kulang says he has taken on board concerns raised recently by leading tourism operator Sir Peter Barter on the current status of tourism development in PNG.
He was responding at the weekend to a recent statement by Sir Peter, owner of Madang-based Melanesian Tourist Services and a former regional MP, that tourism was being focused in Port Moresby and not on the rest of the country.
“We are always happy to receive  critiques from the tourism industry to help us improve to be able to get better tourism outcomes,” he said.
“I want to assure industry stakeholders that these concerns, as well as others expressed at various forums since I took office, are being taken very seriously by the ministry, and we are moving swiftly and holistically to deal with them.”
He said the Government in a  decision last year ago approved the Tourism Zone Support Initiative (TZSI) which has started with three provinces – East New Britain, Milne Bay and Western Highlands.
“The core objective of the TZSI is to create tourism transport hubs in these provinces which will facilitate international direct flights from the tourism source countries such as Australia,” Kulang said.
“The three airports – Tokua (East New Britain), Gurney (Milne Bay) and Kagamuga (Western Highands) all have the capacity to receive direct international flights.
“These hubs will provide the direct access to provinces for leisure travellers as well as business , thus killing two birds with one stone.”
Kulang said he planned to expand the TZSI from 2017 to include Madang, thus having one hub per region, and perhaps one or two other airports in the country which could demonstrate the capacity to receive direct international direct flights from tourism source markets such as Australia, Japan and possibly China and India in the not-too-distant future.
“The TZSI has started with airports as a key infrastructure for tourism development,” he said.
“Other infrastructure projects will come on stream under the TZSI such as ports, wharves and marinas to serve the steadily-growing cruise tourism, including super yachts.
“The current ADB-funded Civil Aviation Development Programme (CADIP) under National Airports Corporation – which came on stream earlier than the TZSI – complements the development strategy for tourism and the direct access to provincial tourism hubs.
“We fully support direct access via tourism hubs into provinces where tourism products are and very much applaud the CADIP programme that has paved the way with the state-of-the-art provincial airports of Kagamuga and Hoskins.
“The challenge always will be to collaborate effectively, industry stakeholders and the Government to create positive synergies and collectively grow tourism.”