PNG needs to tap tourism potential

Letters, Normal

The National, Tuesday 22nd November 2011

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill ad­mitted PNG was a failed state when he lamented on the national scorecard a few weeks ago.
Most of the services like hospitals, roads, schools and general infrastructure are falling apart.
The rapid development in technology has led to an imbalance and disparity between the urban and rural areas.
If we were to sit back and pretend all is well, we will not move forward.
White collar crime is also eating away PNG’s fabric.
But PNG is not poor. It is one of the richest nations in the world.
It has mineral resources, human resources and natural resources such as scenic views, natural wonders, mystic and mythical folklores, marine lives and sandy beaches, picture-book landscapes, emerald waterways, trees, landmass, etc.
These resources are not being fully tapped.
We need someone to sit down and identify, prioritise, plan and develop these resources by aligning the tourism and hospitality industry.
Take for example, in a gorge called Wara Waghi in the Nipa-Kutubu district, there is a “magic” river called Hukir which flows out and down a dry river bed through a huge cave “when instructed” by the people.
Its ability to obey instructions is a very unique feature unlike any found or known in the world.
This could be one of the biggest tourist products with a potential bigger than the LNG project.
However, its remote location and inaccessibility hampers its potential.
Another wonder is the Beaver Falls near Kantobo village in Lake Kutubu, Southern Highlands.
If Niagara Falls along the US-Canada border can lure 20 million tourists a year, Beaver Falls has the potential to draw just as many people, if not more, given its pristine state, natural surrounding, stunning display and other water spots upstream.
Can you imagine 20 million tourists flooding into the area?
The rural economy would be flourishing and become a hive of econo­mic activity.
There are similar natural tourists resources throughout PNG.
We have more than 800 unique cultures and traditions.
They can be institutionalised and developed to lure tourists from all over the world.
Countries like United Arabs Emirates, Israel or other desert nations are flourishing because of tourism.
If we want to improve the national scorecard, then we must start with the rural areas.
One way forward is to research, identify, collate, formulate policies, develop, promote and market the abundance of tourist resources.
Simple, rural tourism is a way forward.

Brian Folock
Via email