Reserve Bank Governor says Papua New Guinea has a lot to learn from Fiji about tourism


Despite being the biggest Pacific nation, Papua New Guinea is lagging behind its neighbours, holding only 10% of the regional tourism market, says the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Loi Bakani. And on a global scale, PNG ranks last in terms of benefitting economically from tourism activity.

Bank of PNG Governor Loi M Bakani

Bank of PNG Governor Loi M Bakani

Although endowed with rich environmental and cultural resources, the tourism industry has contributed little to PNG’s economic growth, the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Loi Bakani has told the 9th University of Papua New Guinea Tourism Convention.

In a keynote address , Bakani said he was again calling on the government to invest in tourism and agriculture, noting ‘these sectors provide a real chance to transform the lives of people around PNG’.

‘We know the tourism industry contributes significantly to social and economic development and its impact is far reaching to every strata of society.

‘It creates jobs, foreign exchange, encourages entrepreneurship and has significant spill-over effects in commerce and transport.

‘Fiji holds 41% of the South Pacific tourism market, “despite it being as big as Milne Bay”.’

‘Tourism is one sector that has the growth potential or can be a growth catalyst to improving the living standards of our rural poor.’

Story continues after advertisment...

Tourism’s global contribution

Bakani cited figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, which said tourism generated US$7.6 trillion and 277 million jobs in the global economy in 2014.

The WTTC report shows that globally, tourism contributed 3.1% of a country’s GDP, but when indirect contributions were taken into account (transport, for example), its contribution rose to 9.8%.

‘Tourism generated 3.6% of the total employment around the world in 2014 and its total contribution to employment was 9.4% through all the indirect and induced economic benefits.

‘Of the 184 countries surveyed in 2014, PNG was ranked last in terms of these economic benefits. Tourism’s contribution was just 1% of GDP and its total contribution accounted for just 2.1%,’ he said.

Employment in the tourism sector was just 0.5%, and when including the indirect benefits, it generated just 1.8% of employment in PNG, he said.

Fiji an example

Bakani also pointed out that Fiji holds 41% of the South Pacific tourism market, ‘despite it being as big as Milne Bay’.

‘These statistics stand to demonstrate that we have a lot to learn from our neighbour before tourism becomes a catalyst for growth in our country.’

‘PNG can tap into these opportunities, if supported with the right resources and appropriate policies as well as the political will to drive this sector,’ he said.

‘Clearly, the Government should take measures to ensure the safety of tourists. However, there needs to be a change in the mindset and attitude of our people. We must learn to respect ourselves, other people who live within our communities, and most importantly, the tourists who come to our shores.’


Law and order as well as infrastructure (roads, airports, ports and electricity) are priorities.

Sheraton Resort Fiji

Sheraton Resort Fiji

‘The recent upgrades at Jackson’s International Terminal, for example, and the Kookaburra (Kumul) Flyover have certainly enhanced the travel experience in Port Moresby.

‘These initiatives are a good start, but clearly not sufficient if we want to grow the tourism sector across the country.’

He said reliable water and energy supplies, as well as safety measures are essential.

‘Clearly, the Government should take measures to ensure the safety of tourists. However there needs to be a change in the mindset and attitude of our people. We must learn to respect ourselves, other people who live within our communities, and most importantly, the tourists who come to our shores.’

He said PNG’s central bank was encouraging people to get involved in the tourism industry through its financial literacy program ‘to empower our people with appropriate knowledge and financial capacity to take part meaningfully in the tourism industry and other activities’.


  1. Arwin S. says

    PNG is a ‘Goldmine’ where Tourism is concerned.
    I had written Letters to various Governors & Ministers with intent of bringing International Tourism Projects on an annual and yearly basis to PNG and not a single response was received.
    I made a further effort to visit PNG and what I saw was absolutely amazing…
    With Hotels, Resorts, Convention Center & infrastructure being developed, the only lacking aspect of Tourism segment is:-
    a. Where are the Tourists?
    b. How would the Convention Center sustain itself?
    c. Destination-marketing?
    d. How does PNG place itself on the global stage?
    e. What are the Tourism-elements of PNG that would make it compete against global Destinations worldwide?
    With global commodity prices dipping, the question remains as to why PNG hasn’t exploited its Tourism opportunities, instead emphasis on its safety and security remains a grave concern by International markets.
    The key is to integrate South Pacific Island Nations & Member States onto a singular platform incorporating global participation, however I am no longer awaiting response from PNG.

  2. josh Kameko says

    The issue with the tourism industry and the impoverised development trend in PNG is not government, neither is it law and order. It is the attitude of the people and all this boils down to education system of the country. Papua New Guinea education standard is so poor. People are trained to earn money they are not trained to develop a nation. That is where all the problem lies. Education system need to be revamped to bring real intellectual training in the university and raise the standards of the higher institutions. Poor education system destroys a generation and ultimately and terribly affects the development of a nation.

  3. Alan Raabe says

    Australia never really had an international tourist industry until the Hawke/Keating Government came along, and appointing John Brown as minister for tourism and sport […] It was John that talked Paul Hogan into another Shrimp on the Barbie and the rest is history. In the 1990s PNG had no fewer then ten liver board dive boats and Indonesia had one. Now PNG has only one full time, and there are about 60 in Irian Jaya alone. Everybody knows what’s wrong with the industry, it’s hearbreaking, every now and then you try to explain how a tourist economy works […]

  4. Raywin . Ovah says

    We’ve been learning and learning from other countries but it takes the political will to do. The governemnt is very good at planning for development but interms of implementing it, it has failed miserably.

  5. We have so few champions for tourism,Full marks MR Bakani.Not only does Fiji have tourism it has jobs for its population because of tourism(and by virtue of tourism a thriving agricultural industry)We have mines (less by the day) and no jobs.Despite the fact that Fiji has a population of less than a million it has more formal sector jobs than PNG with a population of more than 9 million (and climbing rapidly).The answer to law and order issues as we have seen with increased employment with the construction phase of PNGLNG is employment, and the answer in part to long term employment are the tourism and agricultural industries both hugely labour intensive (and also sustainable)

  6. Kevin Byrne says

    What Loi Bakani says is correct but has been said 100 times over many decades. Tourism is an industry that relies on excellence in every facet of business activity. This is a country with some of the best tourism assets in the world yet like most things the assets are difficult and expensive to get to, transport services unreliable, aging infrastructure is not being replaced, standards are being allowed to decline and there is little coordination in the national marketing effort amongst many other ills. I was recently in Tari and the aircraft was late and I was talking to a young UK couple with 3 young children (4, 6 and 8) who were quite astonished that an airport terminal could not even provide a serviceable toilet. The single toilet was blocked and there was no water which has been the case for at least 12 months. There was no water available anywhere. The infrastructure in Tari is atrocious and a portion of the excessive taxation on airline tickets should be returned by way of improved airport services and infrastructure. These UK people should be Ambassadors for PNG but sadly they will never return as they told me PNG did not offer value for money despite all the beauty and challenges. I have heard the same refrain for many years now….

  7. Max Benjamin says

    The biggest constraint to developing tourism in PNG is not Law and Order or Air Niugini.
    It is present Government policies.
    I agree with Mr. Bakani, the Government could learn a lot from Fiji as well as Indonesia, Philippines and most of our neighbours.

Leave a Reply