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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 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.'

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

Cruising boom

Attracting investors Meanwhile, the National Government, through the TPA, is promoting new investments in major tourism facilities, such as large-scale resorts. Packages, including financial incentives for investors, are available. Planning guidelines and suitable sites have been identified and investors are being sought to develop projects. The TPA says it can help arrange pre-feasibility and feasibility studies for certain projects and will work closely with other agencies to assist in identifying business partners—local or foreign—and assist in the licensing and registration clearances with local authorities. Robert Upe is Editor of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini, PNG’s national airline.

Credit: David Conn

‘Fishing, diving and other coastal adventures are also enticing people to PNG shores and, of course, cruising is now making a difference to visitor numbers as well,' says Leigh Reading, a sales and marketing executive with the TPA. ‘Cruising was 2014’s strongest new trend for the destination,’ Reading says. ‘The arrival of a large number of cruise ship operators meant that the destination was required to adapt to service a new style of traveller. We’re seeing more mass cruising, such as P&O Cruises, visiting places like Rabaul and Milne Bay, making them more accessible to a new audience. Travellers are enticed by the comfort of the ship’s

accommodation and dining options, while still being able to experience the culture and the beauty of the country.’ To embrace the cruise boom, new jetties have been built at Kitava and Kaibola, among other places, but Milne Bay has been the focus of the ships because it already had a good port. P&O visits five PNG ports and is adding Kavieng and Madang to its 2015 itineraries. ‘P&O’s return to PNG was possible because of the strong support of the National Government and local authorities, particularly in relation to the provision of infrastructure to accommodate cruise ship visits,’ P&O’s CEO, Anne Sherry, is on the record as saying. Other visiting cruise companies include the HollandAmerica Line, Japan’s NYK Cruises, the British ships Black Watch and Caledonian Sky, French Polynesia-based Paul Gaugin, the residential cruise ship The World, Silversea and Hapag Lloyd. Small-size expedition ships continue to have a strong presence. An obvious benefit of the cruise boom is that village economies are boosted through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and the sale of handicrafts.

Increasing numbers of cruise ships are making their way to PNG.


Business Advantage Papua New Guinea 2015  
Business Advantage Papua New Guinea 2015  

Annual business and investment guide to the Pacific's largest and fastest-growing economy