By PETER S. KINJAP
IF IT was not for the war in the Pacific between 1942 and 1949, Papua New Guinea, home to a unique and diverse cultures that draws people from around the globe, would be a different country in terms of tourism popularity.
In April 1883, James Burns and Robert Philp, with their trading partnership named Burns Philp and Company Ltd were the first to offer tourism to New Guinea, in 1884 through the New Guinea Excursion Trip.
This consisted of a five-week trip from Thursday Island described as the “official beginning of tourist cruises in the South Pacific”. The company later published a book titled Picturesque Travel.
By 1914 the Burns Philp Company’s tourism department was established and advertised tours of Lord Howe and Norfolk Island with the acquisition of the Port Moresby Hotel in the same year. The Papua Hotel was purchased some years later.
Burns Philp, as a tour company based in PNG, continued passenger services until the outbreak of the World War 2 in the Pacific.
The war saw the British government taking over some of the Burns Philp fleet and the vessel Macdui was sunk in Port Moresby in 1942 on its first voyage as a troop carrier.
When the war ended in 1949, amongst others it took exactly 10 years to rejuvenate tourism businesses.
The Morobe Show began in 1959 and is now one of PNG’s celebrated annual events.
Like many other cultural events in PNG, it brings with it a variety of cultural, commercial, horticultural, school, agricultural, livestock and horse-riding displays, as well as general entertainment and amusement activities.
What makes Morobe Show stand out in tourism development in PNG is that it not only showcases cultural festivals but is focused on the agriculture and livestock industry; it is an opportunity to highlight and support the agri-business sector in the country after the war via tourism.
It is Lae city’s largest annual event. Held over three full days, the event showcases life and achievements in the Morobe Province, bringing visitors from all across Morobe, Papua New Guinea and internationally to Lae.
From tribal gatherings to ancient celebrations, these events provide a personal opportunity to understand the history and tradition behind a nation that still actively embraces and observes ancient customs and rituals. Organised farming and agriculture in PNG is part of its history.
It plays a major role in the dissemination of information on cultivation, crops, diseases and breeding, as well as being the largest entertainment event in the province.
The range of groups who turn up for the show represents the largest variety in all such events and is a cross-section of groups that could be seen performing anywhere in PNG. Usually all provinces are represented.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 performers usually attend and each year there are always one or two singsings that have never been seen before or very seldom seen and are quite uncommon.
Last year, Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu said during the opening that the vent was an opportunity to display what Morobe and the country could offer in terms of agriculture and culture.
“Morobe is an agriculture and culture-based society,” Saonu said.
“We live off of our land. Our ancestors have done this over thousands of years. We still are very much dependent on our land for survival.
“Morobe is the food bowl of Papua New Guinea and we need to harness our potential, work harder and add value to our land and culture,” He added.
Show president Mike Quinn encouraged the show-goers to support local businesses.
“There are many good businesses in Papua New Guinea who are contributing to the national economy,” he said.
In 2017, the Australian High Commission Consul-General Paul Murphy when officiating, said the PNG-Australia Partnership supported business, innovation and agricultural product commercialisation throughout the country.
“We also included a stall at the show venue set up by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) which highlighted a range of programmes contributing to agricultural development in Papua New Guinea.
“As an added bonus, we also showcased eight visiting Cairns businesses that are part of the Lae-Cairns Sister City relationship,” Murphy said.
The Morobe Show is hosted by the Morobe Provincial Agricultural Society and Lae city is home to a growing number of settlers from the neighbouring Highlands, Momase and New Guinea Islands regions.
Visitors to the show can expect to see stunning exhibitions of Papua New Guinea culture, agriculture, horticulture, livestock, commercial businesses, churches, NGOs, and school parades.
Bank South Pacific (BSP) is a regular supporter of the prestigious Morobe Agricultural Show with sponsorship to the event as it promotes the agriculture, livestock, horticulture, floriculture and the small to medium enterprises (SME), which are vital industries that support the economy of the province and country.
The focus for BSP is to connect with the SMEs operating in Morobe, and share information and awareness on products and services that it offers for small businesses including home loans and its usual account opening, mobile and internet banking registration.
BSP promotes local SMEs, BSP Agents and provides support in the corporate and agricultural sector in Morobe.
BSP’s area manager for Momase Region, Dennis Lamus said, “BSP has been proud to sponsor of the Morobe Agricultural Show since 2010. It builds and strengthens our community and business relationship in the province.”
Interestingly, last year’s show committee launched “jail baggies”.
It was a project to assist the rehabilitation of the women at Buimo Jail in Morobe.
Instead of plastic bags, environmentally friendly “jail baggies” are made from nylon are so versatile they could be used for shopping and as travel bags.
They were sold for only K20 and K30 each at the show venue. They are compact enough to fit your everyday bag for easy access. They are great gifts for a great cause.
The 58th Morobe Agricultural Show is expected to be bigger and better with another innovative launch.
A huge crowd as seen in past shows is expected from the other parts of PNG to attend, including tourists from overseas. The show will run from Saturday Oct 5 to Sunday, Oct 6 this year.
Don’t’ miss another lively indigenous show.
- Peter Kinjap is a freelance writer and a blogger; email: [email protected]