THE Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) has raised concern that administrative matters pertaining to the operations of the National Museum and Art Gallery have been blown out of proportion, in the process tarnishing the overall image of PNG as a tourism destination.
Responding to a front page report in the Post- Courier on Monday, TPA chief executive officer Peter Vincent said while operational and management issues continue to affect the overall performance of the National Museum, the fee charged to tourists was not new.
Mr Vincent said the museum had been charging the fee of K150 per group for tourists for several years now, particularly on weekends, to cover for security and other administrative costs.
“It is very unfortunate that this incident has received unnecessary world wide publicity because tour operators should know better and if anything, they should have made prior arrangements with the museum,” he said.
He said unfortunately, the two tour operators on the day including Ecotourism Melanesia and another based outside of Port Moresby were new to organising such big tours from cruise ships and they should have sought assistance from TPA or the national museum prior to the ship’s arrival.
“These are normal standard fees and it is the responsibility of tour operators to liaise with the National Museum and Art Gallery and the fees paid in advance so tourists are not unnecessarily intimidated or held up at the gate by the security guards,” he said.
Mr Vincent said tour operators should have prepared in advance to handle cruise ships rather than blaming other people when something went wrong.
He said comments by Aaron Hayes of Ecotourism Melanesia to the media were damaging to the tourism industry in the country, particularly at a time when tourism arrivals throughout the world are slowly
recovering following the global financial crisis.