APEC to reveal tourism as Papua New Guinea’s ‘sleeping giant’


The hosting of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby in 2018 has sparked a flurry of investment in tourism infrastructure. It promises to kick start Papua New Guinea’s tourism industry as the nation’s capital gets more hotel rooms, airports are upgraded and a new tourism minister takes the helm, reports Robert Upe.

Kenu and Kundu festival. Credit: David Kirkland

Kenu and Kundu Festival. Credit: David Kirkland

The Summit will attract thousands of visitors in November 2018, including leaders from 21 APEC countries. Among them will be presidents and prime ministers from the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Australia and Indonesia.

PNG’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has said the summit represents a ‘coming of age’ for PNG on the international stage.

It also represents a coming of age for Port Moresby, in terms of hotel capacity.

Room issues

It has long been the view that the city has a shortage of rooms, a view endorsed by the PNG APEC 2018 Coordination Authority, which quickly identified the shortage of rooms as a key challenge.

High room costs, particularly during the PNG LNG project construction boom, have also been viewed as a problem.

The new 433 Stanley Hotel to open mid-July Source: Business Advantage PNG

The new 433-room Stanley Hotel, set to open mid-July Source: Business Advantage PNG

Well, there is good news.

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There has been a flurry of hotel investment and development in Port Moresby since the announcement that APEC is coming to town.

Forthcoming openings include RH Group’s 433-room Stanley Hotel and PNG’s first Hilton Hotel, both in the Waigani district of the capital. Last year saw the opening of the Holiday Inn Express budget hotel, while other hotels in the capital, such as the Gateway and Airways, have expanded or renovated.

On the outskirts of Port Moresby, the Loloata Dive Resort is undergoing a total rebuild and, when finished, will provide the first serious resort experience close to the capital.

Whether arriving by sea, or air, things are improving for the 200,000 visitors who come the country each year.

Then there’s the giant Paga Hill Estate, a harbourside development that will not only provide Port Moresby with increased street appeal; it is also a modern precinct with a promised six-star luxury hotel, apartments, restaurants, a marina and an international cruise-liner terminal.


Port Moresby International Airport has undergone a major revamp Source: Business Advantage PNG

Port Moresby International Airport has undergone a major revamp Source: Business Advantage PNG

Cruising continues to be a high point in the country’s tourism sector, with more and more ships pointing their bows to PNG.

The cruise boom to PNG really picked up in 2013, when the giant shipping company P&O made its inaugural visit with Pacific Dawn.

Other shipping companies—Princess, the Holland-America Line and Silversea among them—have followed in the wake of Pacific Dawn, while P&O has increased its PNG visits from five in 2015 to 13 in 2016.

‘Kokoda remains a major tourist attraction for the country along with activities such as diving, surfing, bird watching and game fishing.’

But whether arriving by sea or air, things are improving for the 200,000 visitors who come the country each year.

Airport developments

Luxury brands at Port Moresby International Airport Source: Business Advantage PNG

Luxury brands at Port Moresby International Airport Source: Business Advantage PNG

Port Moresby’s Jacksons International Airport has also undergone a transformation, with the arrivals and departures areas receiving major upgrades.

The airport, additionally, has a new retail section with luxury brands, duty free and locally made handicrafts available.

Air Niugini’s chairman, Sir Frederick Reiher, says the National Government has taken a visionary approach in the redevelopment and upgrading of the airport.

‘The impressive redevelopment of Jacksons Airport is making passenger movement much more customer-friendly. The upgrading of domestic airports will also benefit our operations and enable us to expand services as demand grows,’ he tells Business Advantage PNG.

PNG’s variety

Kokoda remains a major tourist attraction for the country, along with activities such as diving, surfing, bird watching and game fishing—as well as a clutch of excellent lodges and resorts in jungle, coastal and mountain settings. PNG’s rich and colourful calendar of cultural events is also winning over visitors. The calendar includes the Goroka Show, the Mount Hagen Show, the Crocodile Festival and the Kenu and Kundu Festival.

Meanwhile, PNG’s new Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture is Tobias Kulang. He was appointed in mid-April to replace Justin Tkatchenko.

Duty free at Jacksons airport Source: Business Advantage PNG

Prouds duty free at Port Moresby International Airport Source: Business Advantage PNG

Tkatchenko only took up the post in January, bringing with him a PGK50 million tourism budget. ‘My appointment is a huge challenge as tourism is our sleeping giant that only needs the right leadership and direction to take it forward,’ he told PNG media at the time.

Kulang’s appointment has been welcomed and comes after a government reshuffle that has seen Tkatchenko appointed as the APEC Minister for PNG in the lead up to the 2018 summit.

In another positive tourism development, a relaxation of tourist visa rules for Australians is on the cards later this year.

It is likely that visas will be available on arrival when Air Niugini starts direct services into special tourist zones such as Gurney-Alotau.

Robert Upe is Editor of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini.


  1. Job Tapo James says

    Papua New Guineans, we are Landowners blessed with a lot of natural resources worth millions of kina and need knowledgeable people who could manage them well so all benefit. If we have an honest leaders who can distribute the wealth equally all Papua New Guineans could own their homes in towns or villages . We are rich with all the natural resources and our budget is in billions and yet the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. People perish for lack of knowledge.

    • Kanau Iobuna says

      Our laws do not uphold innerself spiritual values thereby making it very hard for Honesty to come around and stay

  2. Kanau Iobuna says

    Port Moresby has nothing to offer for the international tourists. They are tired of looking and living in the concrete jungle. They want an environment that is pristine and serene and totally different from the concrete world they are subjected and used to. Is Port Moresby the only transit point in PNG? Where is the rationale? This activities carried out in Port Moresby is only a front and yes Mr Barter its propaganda at its best. Only those who think out of the box will see it but not the ones who have been psychologically programmed and hypnotised by the front put up by the Govt

  3. I am not sure where you secure your information. NCDC is NOT the destination international people are seeking in PNG. It is in the Provinces, the Districts where the bulk of the population live where in nearly all cases hotels are slowly going bankrupt!
    The date being produced by the Government is quite misleading, according the latest arrival figures from SPTO sourced from arrivals are all down by 1% but more importantly, holiday tourists are down by 25% – these are actual figures/
    The cruise ship arrivals further confuse the picture, in the past they have been included under “Holiday” category, but it is not known they are filed in 2015. Also under Other, it is not clear where these arrirvals originate but it does not make much difference to the overall arrivals.
    On the questions of hotel costs, you should not compare hotel costs with hotels in POM. we publish hotel costs in PNG Kina and a mid range 4 star room at Kalibobo Village or Madang Resort sells for K350 including breakfast & airport transfers. This is rack rate, after agents, websites take their commissions the net rate (uield rate) is around K150 or converted to AU$60, less for standard rooms in a resort which has the highest trip advisor reviews in PNG!
    There are more questions than answers and a responsible source of news should research rather than publish propoganda
    It is always good to see tourism in the news, but alloow the truth to prevail!

  4. Kanau Iobuna says

    Are these luxury business houses for the govt or Naturalised citizens of PNG. If JV type what are the share holding like. Is this arrangement going to retain as much cash within the country or will bulk of it leave our shores and end up leaving PNG in the same dilemma as usual where only parasites in the country siphon from the main purse and leave the crumbs to the people

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