By PETER ESILA
LANDOWNERS of the Ok Tedi mine area in Western want to venture into tourism as a backup for when the mine closes.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Landowners’ Royalty Trust and Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) in Port Moresby on Friday for this community-based project.
“I need tourism development,” chief landowner and president of Star Mountains local-level government Borok Pitalok said.
“It is a fall-back for my people.
“More good things will happen because the mine will one day come to an end.”
Royalty Trust chief executive Aubrey DeSouza, when signing the agreement with Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive Jerry Agus, said there was huge potential for tourism in the Star Mountains. The agreement will look at developing bird watching as a first project.
“We have got other investments in commercial, residential property, hotels, stocks and shares but what we are really excited about is that this is a project which is community based,” DeSouza said.
“Royalty Trust has 10 mine villages around Ok Tedi and about 5000 beneficiaries.
“Every year we inform them about the various investments for after-mine life to sustain them for the rest of their lives.
“We expect the project to grow and give them sustainable employment and other opportunities with technical expertise of TPA.”
Agus said this was the first time for a landowner company to partner with a government agency to support local people in the community.
“Most of the time you do not see landowner companies, especially from mining and petroleum-producing areas trying to partner with sectors in tourism and agriculture,” he said.
“You do not have to have huge capital investments to go into tourism.
“It is something that we live with every day, just like agriculture.
“What we will do is to market and promote tourism products in Ok Tedi and Tabubil areas.”
By PETER ESILA