Island life: Loloata Island Resort


Business Advantage visited Loloata Island Resort, a small diving resort outside Port Moresby and asked owner Richard Knight about the challenges of running a tourism operation in Papua New Guinea.

‘When we decided to set up a resort [in 1977], the idea was to set up a diving resort. PNG has the reputation for being one of the best dive locations in the world, and quite deservedly so.

‘The resort is still very small; we only have 21 rooms. We draw a lot on the ex-patriates and affluent Papua New Guineans in Port Moresby for our business, but half our visitors are overseas visitors, the bulk of which are divers. We promote in most parts of the world—Russia, Scandinavia, Australia, Europe, Japan and the United States.

‘Because we’re on an island, we have to produce all our own power, all our own water … our infrastructure and utilities costs are enormous.

‘With waitresses, we train them ourselves. We take a large number of trainees from all the various training institutions. The dive staff, boat drivers and vehicle drivers we train ourselves. For more serious jobs like dive instructors we’ll send people down to Australia to become qualified.

‘Diving’s about half the international tourist market in PNG. We have a very strong Dive Association, which is why we’ve been fairly successful.

‘Most certainly we would encourage new entrants [into the tourism industry]. There’s plenty of potential for things in PNG but it’s a hard road even now to get these sorts of things off the ground. You have to develop the market for a start. It’s not like Cairns, where you have thousands of people coming in anyway.

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‘You’ve got to go for the more niche [activites] that are increasingly popular amongst ageing western populations, such as eco-oriented tourism, softer adventure sports; rafting that’s not too extreme, or even the extreme side because there are some excellent rivers to run in PNG.

‘It’s not that PNG should chase after tourism but that it has to chase after tourism … It’s not something that we really have a choice about, in my opinion.

‘We’ve got some of the most beautiful country in the world without any doubt. I’ve lived here for thirty-six years and it still gives me a lump in my throat sometimes when I go to places that I’ve know well and see them again and they’re just so spectacular.’


  1. Marguerite Fraser says

    It is lovely to see Loloata Island is fulfilling my dream. I started Loloata as a place for the people to get out of Port Moresby in 1970 then my husband and I sold it to Dik Knight in 1977.. At the time when we bought the Island in 1969 Papaua New Guinea was still administered by Australia then when they got independence in 1975 things changed. We held several conferences at Loloata for the setting up of the new Government.
    We obtained permission for a licence which was to be used with the sale.
    We had the Australian Navy dive team on the Island for 6 weeks clearing all the bombs from the waters around the islands in the bay in the flight path to the airport.

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