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SAMANTHA’S TOURISM JOURNEY OF BALANCE AND GROWTH

Balancing work and pursuing academic excellence can be a daunting experience to many, yet Samantha Iyapeng has balanced her role with the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) and has accomplished her academic goals.

Samantha, a 35 years old woman from Galeoale Village in Hoskins, West New Britain Province and a proud graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea’s (UPNG) with a Bachelor of Business & Management Professional Studies in Tourism & Hospitality Management program (BBMPS – THM).

She began her journey with the PNGTPA in 2015 as a receptionist. Armed with a diploma in Information Technology (IT), she embraced the opportunity with dedication.

 “I really didn’t mind, as long as I had a job, sometimes stepping in to perform simple IT duties,” said Samantha.

In 2021, Samantha was sponsored by PNGTPA to pursue her studies at UPNG. However, her educational pursuits were halted by the passing of her mother. Despite this, Samantha remained focused on her goal.

“It was a very difficult time for me, yet I remained committed to my professional development and completed the program,” she affirmed with a smile.

“Balancing my role as a student at UPNG with my responsibilities at PNGTPA presented both challenges and rewards, making it a journey filled with many fond experiences,” Samantha reflects.

Resuming her studies in 2022, Samantha encountered numerous challenges – from balancing work responsibilities at PNGTPA with academic coursework to managing household chores amidst late-night studies. Yet, fuelled by her passion for the tourism industry and a relentless desire to advance her career, Samantha pushed through.

“Effective time management and flexibility were key with the support from friends, colleagues and supervisors who helped me navigate the workload. Obviously, sacrifices were made, but the experience enriched my understanding of the tourism industry and enhanced my skills,” said Samantha.

Her passion for travel and cultural exploration, with a vision for positive change, were the key motivators as she proudly received her bachelor’s degree in the industry which she proudly claims as one of the best.

“As a recent graduate, several aspects of my education are highly applicable to my role at PNGTPA,” Samantha notes.

From strategic planning to marketing and promotion, Samantha’s academic endeavours aligned with her responsibilities as a Business Development Officer.

Douglas Keari, Executive Manager for Research & Business Development at PNGTPA, speaks highly of Samantha’s dedication and potential.

“Samantha is a keen learner and always willing to take on challenges. Her commitment to professional development is commendable, and I am confident that the degree will enhance her understanding of her role,” said Keari.

Samantha’s passion for her job has given her the responsibility to spearhead the “Tourism MSME Training” initiative, a project aimed at developing entrepreneurship and promoting sustainable tourism development across Papua New Guinea.  

By conducting training sessions in different regions, Samantha ensures broader participation and engagement from local communities, thereby spreading the benefits of tourism more evenly across the country.

“The project demonstrates PNGTPA’s commitment to maximizing the potential of PNG’s tourism sector. It’s an exciting endeavor that has the potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the tourism landscape of the country. This is why I love my job and the industry that I proudly serve,” said Samantha.

Samantha’s vision for her future is clear – to advance into leadership roles, drive innovation, and champion talent development within the organization. Her experience as a sponsored student has given her a deep appreciation for education and professional development, motivating her to support initiatives that empower others within the tourism sector to thrive and succeed.

“To the young graduates aspiring to work in the PNG tourism sector. Find your passion, embrace challenges, make an impact, and believe in yourself. Your passion and determination will carry you far in this dynamic and rewarding industry,” said Samantha with her heartfelt advice.

PNGTPA’s CEO, Eric Mossman Uvovo also commended Samantha and many other employees who have graduated with their Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism Hospitality Management from the University of Papua New Guinea.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of our PNGTPA employees for their outstanding accomplishment in achieving their career development. Their commitment to furthering their education while balancing each of their responsibilities at PNGTPA is truly commendable,” said Uvovo.

“We are proud to have sponsored six TPA employees through this program so far. It is a testament of our commitment to investing in the professional development of our team members and empowering them to reach their full potential. We believe that investing in our employees’ education not only benefits them individually but also contributes to the overall success and sustainability of our organization,” Uvovo affirmed.

The BBM PS – THM is UPNG and PNGTPA’s joint program, which is tailored to meet the needs of working professionals in the tourism sector. It provides a pathway for individuals like Samantha and many other employees, who have extensive experience in the industry but lack formal academic qualifications, to obtain recognized degrees.

The inclusive nature of the program, accommodates individuals with various educational backgrounds and levels of experience, ranging from graduates with secondary school certifications to those with existing diplomas or degrees in relevant fields.

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