Papua New Guinea tourism receives some attention


Several new developments – the creation of a tourism hub at Kokopo (and new direct international flights to service it) and the start of cruise liners visiting remote Milne Bay – indicate progress is being made to develop Papua New Guinea’s tourism industry.

Rabaul Volcano in East New Britain. Credit:

Rabaul Volcano in East New Britain. Credit:

In 2013, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that Kokopo in East New Britain Province would be designated a tourism hub.

Coupled with direct Air Niugini flights from Cairns to the nearby Tokua Airport, this concept has been welcomed by tourism operators. Sydney tourism operator Ruth Dicker of Niugini Holidays says Kokopo would be ‘a great destination hub’ but, as Nick Lyons, President of the East New Britain Chamber of Commerce warns, improved infrastructure and an improvement in the country’s image overseas will be required if the province is to reap the benefits of ‘huge’ tourism potential.

The PNG Government appears to understand this: it has re-established a consulate in Cairns to provide visa and other services to potential visitors to PNG, including tourists to East New Britain. It has also backed up the announcement with K58 million for essential infrastructure in its 2014 National Budget.

Cruise liners

Island markets on a PNG cruise  Photography

Island markets on a PNG cruise. Credit:

PNG has long been visited by cruise ships but the first of a series of visits by Carnival Australia/P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn to Milne Bay in October 2013 marked a ramping up of cruise ship business. Over the next 15 months, P&O will bring six superliners to Alotau and a total of nearly 12,000 tourists.

To accompany the new service, Carnival Australia signed with a three-year deal AusAID to help boost local business tourism opportunities in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. The two organisations will also examine options for improving access facilities in the Trobriand Islands and Alotau port.

PNG tourism officials hope the range of ports will expand.

Story continues after advertisment...
The PNG Tourism Promotion Authority's Stuart Thompson

The PNG Tourism Promotion Authority’s Stuart Thompson

‘Areas where the cruise ships go will continue to develop. Any of these cruise locations will really start to put PNG on the map with Australians, as word of mouth spreads,’ says Stuart Thompson, Sydney-based Australia-New Zealand Representative for the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).

‘Island areas such as Kavieng in New Ireland and the Conflict Islands in Milne Bay are so stunning and remote. Australians will soon be looking to explore these areas more than ever.’

Other cruise lines operate in PNG, including Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Japan’s NYK Cruises and the specialist North Star Cruises Australia, which carries only 36 passengers to Kavieng or Alotau and provides specialist talks from ecologists and biologists.

Kokoda Track

The Kokoda Memorial Credit:

The Kokoda Memorial Credit:

For around 3000 Australians annually, the Kokoda Track is provides the main reason to visit PNG.

‘One of the main promotional focuses of 2014 will be the ‘Do Kokoda’ campaign (, which has been designed to encourage more Australians to trek Kokoda and raise awareness of the benefits trekking the track has on local communities,’ says Thompson.

The official launch of the website and campaign will take place on ANZAC Day 2014.

Outdoor activities, such as trekking, diving, surfing and kayaking, and eco-tourism continue to be the mainstays of tourism activity in PNG, serviced by small owner-operators. Surfing and diving will the focus of additional TPA’s promotional campaigns in 2014.

PNG’s industry is also reaching out to international travel agents and wholesalers, holding an well-attended inaugural trade event, Lukim Nau PNG, in September 2013.

Facts and figures: how PNG compares

Official tourism figures are hard to come by, with PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority ceasing to publish visitor arrival numbers in 2011. But PNG’s high cost structure means it does not compare well with other South Pacific nations, who have managed to create and develop strong tourism industries. Fiji reports that visitor arrivals in 2011 totalled 675,050; Vanuatu had 248,868 tourists, while visitor arrivals, to PNG that same year were just 165,000, with only a small portion of those being tourists.

Essential infrastructure

While Australia remains a primary market for PNG’s tourism sector, the national carrier Air Niugini now flies to destinations such as Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Singapore.

Recent investment has seen the number of hotel rooms increase in both Port Moresby and Lae. Port Moresby, has a number of quality hotels, including Airways Hotel, which has won numerous international awards. R H Group’s new five-star Raintree Hotel and Suites at the Vision City shopping complex is due to be finished in 2015 and a smaller airport hotel is also being built. Meanwhile, the Holiday Inn in Waigani is being substantially expanded. In Lae, Hornibook NGI has recently opened a new 45-room hotel aimed at business people and tourists.


  1. Beverly Jonathan says

    TPA should work along with Air Niugini and PNG Air. They should create the return fares originating from outside of the country cheaper then out originating from POM. This is to encourage tourists into the country and to other parts of the country.
    Every Friday, I see lots of People travel out of the country for weekend.
    TPA should work along with State Enterprise and create a cheaper rates for accommodations. Speaking to few tourists, they say that PNG is very expensive, that is why not many tourists come to PNG.

Leave a Reply