Lae city is better known as an industrial hub in the country, but is hardly synonymous with tourism. The recently established Lae City Tourism Bureau, under the Lae City Authority (LCA) is working to make Lae the gateway to tourist locations not only in the city, but the province as well.
This will involve reviewing existing and potential tourist locations, lodges, activities, and networking these operators.
According to LCA’s Chief Executive Officer Niel Ellery, the bureau has already reviewed a list of tourist locations around Lae however, they have identified a lack of partnership amongst tour operators.
“When we started doing an audit of all the tourist opportunities that are there, or potentially there, the list is huge but then they all work isolated… if they all work together, the potential is much bigger.”
The bureau aims to address this by identifying activities that are unique to an area, and to facilitate tourism networks.
“If someone wanted to go fishing, bike riding, golf … how do they put all that together when everyone is not working together? that’s what the tourism bureau is trying to address.”
The focus however is not only tourism in Lae and Morobe. With Lae’s location being accessible to other centers by land, sea, and air, Ellery said the city could well be the gateway to tourism in other provinces as well, especially those linked by the roads.
Last week Lae based dirt bike tour operator Niugini dirt, with the support of the Lae City Authority and Tourism Bureau embarked on a journey from Lae and Madang, to Chimbu, ending in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province.
The ten bikers travelled to the Usino junction in Madang, where they started the first lag of the journey to Snow pass in Bundi. They were welcomed by the fire head dancers of Karizokara. It was a rarely seen traditional dance. This was organized by Vincent Kumure, who runs the Bundi eco-lodge..
The bikers continued to Gembogl Chimbu Province where they were accommodated by Betty Higgins who owns Betty’s Lodge and Trout Farm at the foothills of Mt. Wilhelm. A delighted Betty said that it had been one of the busiest times at her lodge, saying it would help her tourism business.
It was also an opportunity for the bikers to ride along with members of the Chimbu Bikers Club from Gembogl, to Kundiawa.
“Its finding the uniqueness of the the area… If we are doing adventure tourism, up in Chimbu they are doing something different, Madang they are doing something different, so try to get people to experience each of the different provinces.”
“We all regionalize ourselves a bit, we are all Papua New Guineas at the end of the day and tourism should be spread throughout and Lae can be an actual starting point for that” said Ellery.
He stressed on the importance of having active tourism bureaus that are willing to liaise with other districts and provinces to produce tourism packages and products.
“Our biggest problem is the link up, and the working in isolation from each other, and we don’t share our resources very well.”
“We are trying to show all the provinces working together, and giving to the world a product that is very unique.”
By Lucy Kopana – EMTV News Lae