Wartime tourism has the potential for the country’s financial growth in the tourism sector says, Adventure Kokoda owner, Charlie Lynn.
This is because Papua New Guinea is the custodian of war time history sacred to the heritage of Japan, Australia and United States of America.
Charlie Lynn, an Australian war veteran from the Vietnam War, initiated the Kokoda Adventure Campaign through the Adventure Kokoda in 1992 to embrace the concept of wartime tourism.
Charlie developed the idea of trekking the 96km Kokoda track after seeing the British, American and Australian soldiers respect for their military history.
Down memory lane, the track shows a jurisdiction of responsibility for the World War 2 veterans where he has been fighting for a master memorial plan for Kokoda Track to be developed and used to model for wartime tourism in Papua New Guinea.
Over the last 10 years, some 40,000 Australians have trekked Kokoda, and they have generated an industry worth K400 million, in which he says is just starting.
However, Charlie adds that due to a dysfunctional model, trekker numbers have been crashing by 48% and the Australian Government has spent AU$50 million.
Charlie says war time tourism is the hub of tourism, and involves people who come to pay their respect of the heritage, people and land, and that they would want to leave their footprints behind in some way.
And, Australians would want to trek in the footstep of their forefathers to tell the story of the troops.
Last Saturday, Charlie led 33 trekkers through the Kokoda Youth Leadership Program. So far, 350 Australians have been through it and the results have exceeded expectations.
With its promising end, he has proposed to set-up scholarship programs for Papua New Guineans to study history overseas and the introduction of Melanesian studies for locals.