By MALUM NALU
TOURISM Promotion Authority chief executive officer Jerry Agus wants the Papua New Guinea media to tell the stories about our beautiful country to the world.
He said this when hosting a media get-together in Port Moresby last Friday.
Veteran journalist Frank Kolma said the onus was upon every journalist “to stand for our country and to promote our country”.
“Tourism is an industry that is completely different from other industries within the country,” Agus said.
“The success of the industry in the country does not depend on how good the CEO is, how good the management is, or how good the tourism industry is.
“Tourism is an industry that cuts across different sectors.
“Tourism depends on good roads and bridges out there, good airports and airstrips out there, jetties and wharves we have, flight connectivity, taxi drivers, waiters and waitresses working in every hotel, customer services provided by flight attendants on aircraft.
“If you look at it, the tourism experience depends on the whole range of people.
“If one person doesn’t do his part, then the entire experience is spoiled.”
Agus said that was why the TPA tried to engage with all key stakeholders to embrace the importance of tourism.
“If everyone can work together, then we can see that tourism in the country grows,” he said.
“If everyone thinks that tourism growth depends entirely on Tourism Promotion Authority, it will never work.
“In order to deliver on our mandate to market and promote tourism, as a desired tourism destination overseas, we try our best to engage with so many people.”
Agus said this was where the media came in.
“As we all know, media plays a very important part in terms of influencing a lot of decisions out there,” he said.
“Media can spoil people, even colour a criminal as a good person, it can influence lot of things.
“Tourism is very important, but because of selling papers or attracting more viewers, you forget the tourism part of it.
“This country called Papua New Guinea is a country that you and I belong to.
“We will never be Australians, we will never be New Zealanders, we will never be Americans, no matter how hard we try.
“Papua New Guinea is our country, so we have got to have that at the back of our minds.
“Negative stories like rape, murder, tribal fighting attract people to the media.
“We must not forget that now, in this digital world we are living in, the news that you put up will go viral and lot of people overseas will read your stories.
“If we get a lot of negative stories out, it will affect the image of this country.
“At the moment, one of the impediments to tourists coming to Papua New Guinea is the negative image perception.
“Some people think that upon arrival at Jackson (International Airport), you will be killed.
“That’s the perception out there.”
Agus urged the media to “improve the image of this country”.
“Papua New Guinea is not ‘very dangerous’,” he said.
“There are a lot of dangerous countries out there where tourists go and visit.
“We don’t have terrorists, we don’t have car bombings, but people think that this country is ‘very dangerous’.
“Whatever you report, remember that what you report may have negative implications.
“This is our country, we were born here and we will die here, so we all have to work together to promote our country.”
Agus urged reporters that when travelling, especially to a province out of Port Moresby, “you should write about the beauty of that particular province”.
“You could stay in a very good guest house, or you might go to an island with white, sandy beaches,” he said.
“You could write about that.”
Kolma said: “We all have a duty to stand for our country first and to defend it, in every profession that we have.
“We need to all promote our country, in whatever way we can.”
By MALUM NALU