Province gets serious with tourism


SOUTHERN Highlands has suffered a lot over the last two years, starting with the 2017 election and ensuing post-election violence last year.
It’s sad, as the province has a lot to offer tourism, with its traditional cultures and breath-taking scenery, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and others.
The Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA), in conjunction with a local guesthouse operator, is organising a tourism training workshop later this month for tourism purposes.
It will be challenging Southern Highlanders to lay down their guns and embrace the benefits of tourism.
The workshop will culminate with a visit by Culture and Tourism Minister Emil Tammur and TPA chief executive officer Jerry Agus on May 3 to launch tourism promotion activities in Southern Highlands.
TPA research and statistics officer Tonny Kandata, who is organising the event, is excited about the prospects for tourism there.
“It will start on April 30 and end on May 3,” he says.
“On May 3, we will have the main event, where the tourism minister and CEO will be coming to launch tourism development in Southern Highlands.
“Before that, we will have two days of training workshops.
“The first workshop will be on April 30 and the second one will be on May 1.
“After the workshops, we will start getting ready for minister and CEO’s arrival on May 3.”
Local guesthouse operator, Warren Temokang, is working together with the TPA in organising this event.
The Southern Highlands’ government and administration are also expected to participate in the programme.
“The purpose of this workshop is to do general awareness about tourism,” Kandata says.
“The TPA wants to have a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) is place with Southern Highlands to develop tourism in the province.
“Before we sign the Mou with the provincial government, TPA officers want to go and do general awareness about tourism, educate the people on the ground, and listen to the views of the people.
“This is especially guesthouse operators, tourism product owners and others.
“We are targeting everybody who has an interest in developing tourism.
“People have been writing letters to us, which have been seen by the CEO, who wants us officers to go ahead and do general awareness and educate them first on tourism.”
Kandata agrees that there has been so much negativity about Southern Highlands recently.
“People have the perception that there is an attitude problem in the province,” he says.
“To help change the mindsets of the people, our CEO is sending us to the province to do a general awareness campaign, so people can change their attitudes.”
Kandata says Southern Highlands has so much to offer tourism despite all the negativity.
“Each province of Papua New Guinea has its own diverse cultures, environment and landscape, which is different from other provinces,” he says.
“If you look at Southern Highlands, it shares nine borders with nine other provinces.
“From my observation, each village is different, by way of cultures and traditions.
“That’s something that makes Southern Highlands unique, which TPA is trying to promote in order to attract tourists.”
Temokang is elated at the support of the TPA to promote and show the better side of Southern Highlands.

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