Business and employment travel outperforms leisure travel to Papua New Guinea

Business and employment travel into Papua New Guinea has more than tripled in the last 15 years, outperforming leisure travel, which has see marginal growth over the last five years. Robert Upe reports.

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Airways Hotel, a favourite for business travellers

Papua New Guinea tourism was in the world spotlight in 2014, with a startling publicity campaign in New York. Two PNG tribesmen, in traditional dress, stopped cars and crowds as they wandered the streets of the Big Apple and visited sites such as the Empire State Building.

Additionally, one of the world’s leading travel publishers, Lonely Planet, selected PNG Village Stays on its list of the 26 experiences to do in the world in 2015, and the New York Times named the new Lake Murray Fishing Lodge in its 52 places to go in 2015.

Leisure travel

It’s the type of invaluable publicity that PNG tourism needs. Of PNG’s 182,188 visitors in 2013, only 41,000 were leisure travellers, according to figures provided by the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).

‘While leisure tourism numbers are increasing due largely to the growing awareness of Papua New Guinea as a viable tourist destination, business travellers are a more significant source of inbound tourism expenditure.’

While leisure tourism is on the rise, helped along by the ever-popular Kokoda Track and a boom in cruise ship visits, it is business and employment travel that is really sending PNG’s visitor numbers on a trajectory that would please the National Government. Business and employment travel into the country has more than tripled since about 2002.

But in raw figures, leisure travel has only increased by 10,000 people in the past five years.

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‘While leisure tourism numbers are increasing due largely to the growing awareness of Papua New Guinea as a viable tourist destination, business travellers are a more significant source of inbound tourism expenditure,’ says Euromonitor International, a London-based market intelligence firm.

‘Australia, New Zealand and the US represent key business traveller source markets and mining is the dominant foreign investment activity.’

Government target

The Tourism Promotion Authority's Kayleen Allen

The Tourism Promotion Authority’s Kayleen Allen

The World Travel and Tourism Council says the ‘direct contribution’ of travel and tourism to the country’s GDP was K369.5 million in 2013 and it forecasts this to rise by 4.3 per cent between 2014 and 2024. Tourism’s ‘total contribution’ to PNG’s 2013 GDP was 2.5 per cent.

To help these figures along, the National Government has targeted tourism as a priority area for economic development and for the creation of employment opportunities.

Tourism hub

One of the Government’s major initiatives is to turn Rabaul in East New Britain into PNG’s tourism hub.

‘Over a three-year period, we will be looking at how customer services are being provided here in East New Britain, the pricing structure in the hotel industry, tour packages, scheduling, expectations of customers, training, law and order and many other areas.’

The Rabaul project manager, Kayleen Allen from TPA Australia, says that in order to make Rabaul the tourism capital, it is important to work and train those in the industry up to the standard where they can take in international guests.

Tourism operator, Linda Honey

Tourism operator, Linda Honey

‘We need a holistic approach, hard work and commitment from everyone here in East New Britain. We must all work together to make this happen.

‘Over a three-year period, we will be looking at how customer services are being provided here in East New Britain, the pricing structure in the hotel industry, tour packages, scheduling, expectations of customers, training, law and order and many other areas. We will be working with everyone to make this happen.”

Last May, the national carrier Air Niugini made a commitment to support the government’s initiative when it implemented twice-weekly direct flights between Rabaul and Cairns in Australia.

‘But where tourists are going is very, very safe and the people welcome and nurture the tourists. There is so much more (tourism) potential in PNG and that’s the story that doesn’t get out.’

Australians are, by far, the key source of visitors to PNG and the convenient new Cairns flights should help bolster leisure arrivals, especially since travellers can bypass the country’s capital, Port Moresby, which suffers from an image problem.

Image challenge

The TPA says that many visitors do not understand the vast difference between Port Moresby and the safe regional areas such as New Ireland, East New Britain and Mine Bay.

On that point, Linda Honey, owner of the popular Tufi Resort that helps arrange the village stays that Lonely Planet endorses, says PNG does suffer from negative media reports.

‘But where tourists are going is very, very safe and the people welcome and nurture the tourists,’ she counters.

‘There is so much more (tourism) potential in PNG and that’s the story that doesn’t get out,’ she says.

Adventure tourism

Travel Writer, Regis St Louis

Travel Writer, Regis St Louis

Regis St Louis, a writer for London’s Telegraph newspaper, reported recently:

‘A land of thriving tribal cultures, smouldering volcanoes and vast swathes of pristine mountainous rainforest, Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s last great frontiers and remains largely untouched by mass tourism.’

Indeed, Honey says the village stays attract adventure travellers rather than mass-market commercial tourists.

She says it is a raw, grassroots experience that helps villagers earn income and shows visitors a very old culture.

Trekking, especially on Kokoda, also remains a major drawcard.

Attracting investors

Meanwhile, the National Government, through the TPA, is providing financial incentives for new investments in major tourism facilities, such as large-scale resorts.

Planning guidelines and suitable sites have been identified and investors are being sought to develop projects.

Robert Upe is Editor of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini, PNG’s national airline.

 

Comments

  1. Johannes Serave says:

    I want to promote turism in PNG trough documentry, magazines, etc..
    How can i give my profile to fourism promotion autorities to see and fund this project.

  2. Backpackers, vacation seekers, leisure travels and tourists would find PNG an exciting place to visit. In the Highlands of PNG, we have formed a group “PNG Highlands Exotic Tours”. Our primary role is to act s an umbrella tourism organization to help our local people connect with visitors.

    Many local people are willing to provide accommodation, meal at the lowest cost.

    Howarig Consultants – PNG Highlands Exotic Tours (specializes in niche tourism product e-marketing for the Highlands region) have been heavily involved in the SME Tourism Sector in the recent past. In doing so, we have some of the world’s fascinating sites and scenes that rare and Ancient yet to discover. For instance the World Heritage listed pre-historic Kuk Archaeological Site dated back some 7,000 years contiguous land cultivation and 10,000 years possibly time span. At Kuk, evidence of digging ditches with wooden tools were from 4,000 BP to present. This is at the fertile Waghi Valley.
    Yuku Rock Shelter in Baiyer River where first humans are believed to have set foot on the Island of New Guinea from the migration routes from South-East Asia. The Yuku Rock Shelter (plant microfossil analysis revealed the cave was occupied from before 14,200 BP to recent times). Still in Baiyer, there is a longest and deepest cave, its locally known as Ambuawasa Stone. Locals find it difficult to go near it.

    In the Malga Valley at the foot of Mount Giluwe, there are remains of huge logs, believed to be from the Ancient period. At Mt. Giluwe, there are a lot of caves where people believed to have lived thousand years ago.
    All these Sites are located in the Western Highlands Province, Papua new Guinea.

    Nombe Rock Shelter is in Simbu Province. It is an ancient shelter and more research is required to establish more facts. Human activity documented about 25,000 BP and continues through to present time.

    Therefore, Papua New Guinea is arguably an ancient country!

    Papua New Guinea is regarded as the world’s third pristine rainforest area accommodating some thousand species of flora and fauna. Some of which have not been recorded and documented by biologists. For instance a recent discovery of a rare Wasp (Giant Bee) on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific regions highest mountain, Mt. Wilhelm located in Chimbu Province in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

    Mt. Giluwe, the second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea and the highest Volcanic Summit in the Oceania region including Australian continent (Mt. Giluwe is listed as one of the 7 Volcanic Summits in the World), also located in Western Highlands Province. The New Guinea Singsing Dog (NGSD) that is believed to be found at the peak of Mt. Giluwe. Researchers are yet to discover this site. The Dog still barks and local people never go close to it.

    The once world renown Baiyer River Bird Sanctuary in the Western highlands Province is currently undergoing rehabilitation, to revive its former glory days in the 1960s. The rehabilitation process is currently being spearheaded by the local Member of Parliament (MP), Honourable Koi Trappe in consultation with the Department o Environment and Conservation. This was made possible by an Australian team of Biologists who toured the area late last year and carried out a feasibility study to assess the viability of reviving the Baiyer River Bird Sanctuary. The recommendations of this feasibility were forwarded to the Government of Papua New Guinea for implementation. The basic perimeter fencing and the animals and birds cages are currently taking shape.

    The Mt. Bosavi untapped Wildlife and pristine biodiversity is also located in the neighboring Southern Highlands Province. The area is known for frequent visits by some of the World’s best scientists and researchers. A recent discovery of a Giant Rat at Mt. Bosavi by a crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and some scientists is a case in point.

    These potential tourism investment opportunities are not promoted and marketed widely due to mere negligence and ignorance by responsible PNG Government Authorities.

    We at HOWARIG Consultants – PNG Highlands Exotic Tours, have taken the initiative to promote market and develop these sites for tourism attraction. However, we are constraint by logistics and partnership links. We have made an attempt to consult Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) recently and they referred us to PNG Tourism Industry Association (PNGTIA) which charged certain fees. As an infant SME Tourism entity, we got stuck at this point.

    All these sites are located in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The country is known to have rich cultural diversity with over 840 different languages and uniquely distinct cultures and traditions. These languages are known to be comprised of almost one third the World’s total known languages. We also have five annual cultural festivals in the region, namely Mt. Hagen Cultural and Agricultural Show, Goroka Cultural Show, Jiwaka Cultural Show, Enga Cultural Show and Hela Cultural Show. They are evenly scheduled throughout the year as to avoid clashes in dates.

    Therefore, we require your assistance for developing, promoting and marketing these tourism products. Also we are looking out to work in partnership with you here in PNG Highlands on these projects.

    Hear from you soon.

    Peter Kinjap & Phillip Ukuni
    PNG Highlands Tourism Promoters
    Mt. Hagen, Western Highlands Province
    Papua New Guinea, South West Pacific

  3. Jon Qs Kamaru says:

    It’s an opportunity, most rural Papua New Guinea need to tap on and see the real benefits for all. Despite the many obstacles and challenges, nothing is impossible if one is willing to work hatd and achieve results.

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