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Old 15-05-2003, 07:03 PM
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Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Press Release Thursday 15 May 2003

PNG Tourism Promotion Authority Board Chairman Nick Kuman, who is also the Chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Culture & Tourism, expressed concern at the country’s continuous failure to allow “visa free” access.

This follows concern expressed by Melanesian countries Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands that while they have gone to the extent of waiving all migration restrictions, PNG has not reciprocated under a Melanesian Spearhead Group communiqué agreed to in 1994.

“We support what Melanesian countries are saying,”Mr Kuman said today (Thursday, May 15, 2003).

“We travel to their countries and we don’t pay visa fees, likewise, we should extend the same to them.

“For tourism purposes, we should also extend visas to residents of countries like Australia, Japan, USA, and parts of Europe which are lucrative tourist source markets.

“This should also be extended to all Commonwealth countries.

‘The flow of foreign exchange would be high and impact on our economy.

“The recent increase in visa fees is uncalled for and must be immediately reviewed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“We receive about 55, 000 visitors per year, which equates to over K300 million in foreign exchange earnings.

“This should substantially increase should we have more visitors coming to our country.

“Fiji, which has about 600, 000 visitors a year, has a very favorable visa policy.”

Honorable Nick Kuman, MP

PNG Tourism Promotion Authority Board and Parliamentary Committee on Culture & Tourism
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Old 15-05-2003, 08:27 PM
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Viewpoint by Steven Mago in Sydney

"In tourism, there are two major factors that hinder the development and growth of the industry. These are called impediments and constraints. Impediments are destination-related issues that make it difficult for tourism to happen and thus, prevent any significant growth in visitor arrivals. Example are government regulations and policies that make it difficult for local operators to operate and for tourist to visit.

Examples are government-imposed taxes on goods and services which are used purely for tourism/travel purposes. When this happens, the supplier of the final tourism product or experience will have put his price up and because most items are imported, this is often the only way to operate. For the tourist, the job of trying to visit the country is made even harder with strict regulations on things like entry visas and high tourist visa fees.

In PNG's case, this has been an ongoing problem area for intending visitors for sometime. While the rest of the world is fully awake and has taken steps to rectify such problems, PNG has not realised this weakness in its tourist entry policy.

And then we wonder why we don't get that many tourists while Fiji, which does not even have the cultural and natural richness and diversity as PNG, thrives and continues to thrive? And we also wonder why Fiji's Air Pacific has a fleet of aircraft which has Boeing 747s, 767s, 737s and Airbuses while we have a single Boeing 767, which often throws Air Niugini's flight schedule into chaos when something goes wrong.

Other examples of impediments are crime, high costs of airfares, accommodation and tours, lack of infrastructure, lack of tourist information and lack of a customer service culture (punctuality/time, cleanliness, comfort, safety etc,).

Then there are constraints which are external environmental factors that destination regions and local tourism operators have no control over. Examples are the threat of terrorism, SARS, the recent war in Iraq and other international political issues and natural events like volcanic eruptions, typhoons and flooding that happen as part of nature.

Considering these two factors, impediments are easier to deal with and rectify because they are mostly man-made factors like government decisions and policies that can changed and improved to facilitate the growth of the local tourism industry and encourage tourist visits.

In tourism, we talk about something called "getting them past the gate" which is a simple tourism development rule. What it means it that the priority for anyone, any business and any government that wants tourism, should be to do anything within its power and make all things possible, facilitate and encourage tourists to want to visit.

The key is to make things easy for the tourist decide to come, to buy that airline ticket, to book that tour, to book that accommodation and and come. In the airline industry, it's called "putting bums on seats", that's what we should be aiming for.

And once he's on that plane to Port Moresby, we've succeeded because we have just secured something tangible to justify all the money we spend on international marketing and promotions. This is an actual booking, a tourist, or a contributor to foreign exchange, who has decided to come to visit us.

Once he has landed at Jackson's Airport, and the customs officer has stamped his passport and given him his visa (if he didn't have one when he landed, we have got him "past the gate", meaning, we have made everything possible, with or without impediments and constraints, and added another statistic to our database.

Once he is in Port Moresby, you know there is someone out there who will provide accommodation and meals, another one to provide the tours, another one to sell the souvenirs, and another community to offer their hospitalty and share their culture and natural heritage.

And if you added everything up, it amounts to hundreds of people being employed, having a purpose in life, paying taxes to the government and supporting their family and wantoks just because of the needs and demands of that one tourist.

And that's exactly what we should be aiming for - for tourists to arrive in huge numbers - not in the trickle that we currently see. And to make this happen, we have to remove some of the obstacles that prevent this from happening. And I wonder why this is too hard to understand!

I just hope I haven't wasted my time writing this."

Thank you.


Steven Mago

Steven Mago seen here in this photograph with a group of Japanese Pottery Tourists on the Sepik River, 2002 :
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