By Delly Waigeno – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The National Government has set its sights on developing tourism infrastructure and products in Papua New Guinea.
Kokopo, Alotau and Mt Hagen are now the focus of the government’s new Tourism Zone Initiative.
Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Tobias Kulang, said so far in PNG, the tourism sector contributes just 2% to GDP, when it has the potential to contribute up to an average of 10%.
Minister Kulang said the responsibility for tourism development is a shared one. He added that the Provincial Governments and District Development Authorities need to understand that they play a key role and should develop their own tourism plans for the provinces and the districts.
The Tourism Zone Initiative is the National Government’s effort in lifting the profile of PNG as an ideal tourist destination.
“This will be the fore runner in us selling Tourism in Papua New Guinea. So that means the roads and hospitality, roads, the security, energy, the communications network has to be there,” stated Minister Kulang.
In May, Minister Kulang attended the 1st World Conference on Tourism for Development Summit Forum in Beijing, China where the United Nations declared 2017 as the year of Sustainable Tourism Development.
“That is emanating from the fact that in 2015, Tourism contributed 10% to GDP globally. Like for Fiji its 35%, some others, higher than 10%. For PNG, it’s less than 2%,” he said.
He commended Kokopo and the East New Britain Provincial Government and stakeholders for advancing their master plan.
Minister Kulang and his team will be in Alotau this week to ensure they are well into their tourism master plan development.
The Minister will also be sending out teams this week across the seven Highlands Provinces to account for the regions tourism products and destinations.
“On the 24th we are going to host for the first time the biggest Tourism Conference in the Highlands in Mt Hagen,” stated Minister Kulang.
He said the Tourism Zone Initiative will ensure PNG comes on par to capture the opportunities that international tourism is providing in terms of contribution to economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation.
He said key stakeholders and donor agencies are keen to support the cause.
Minister Kulang thanked the World Bank for coming on board and pledging support to the tune of US$20 million to assist the initial three tourism hubs.