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The Journey to Paradise Photos of great cultural and natural beauties of Papua New Guinea

 
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:00 PM
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Tourism Message Burns Chimbu

By Colin Taimbari

WAIL O! Yambrawa! Might definitely be the catch cry in Simbu right now but the message of tourism is also burning like wildfire right across the rugged mountains, limestone gorges, wild rivers and valleys of this beautiful province.

The people of Simbu, like their warrior ancestors before them are survivors because they inhibit probably one of the most hostile natural environments around. However, their determination and conviction to survive despite the odds is now being transformed onto the tourism stage.

Wara Simbu (Simbu River) cuts through rugged and mountainous terrain.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:05 PM
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Boosting world popular tourism icon – Mount Wilhelm, the highest mountain in the region – and a yet not so popular and unexplored cave – believed to be the longest in the world coupled with its diverse wildlife and rich culture. Simbu has what it takes to mix it with the best in tourism.

In fact, all of last week, everyone was thinking, talking and working tourism when the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority arrived in town to conduct a weeklong workshop and training as part of its nationwide campaign to promote tourism awareness and improve standards for small tour or guest house operators.

The lovely natural scenery provides a perfect backdrop for photo opportunities for visitors to Simbu.

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Old 29-06-2005, 02:09 PM
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The workshop which had two components – awareness and training – was facilitated jointly by TPA officer Jerry Agus and tourism and hospitality expert Flora Gutierrez of the Department of Education’s Technical Vocational Education & Training Division (TVET).

Our presence was embraced with open arms as this was the first time in some 30 years that tourism as a concept for economic, social, cultural, environmental and human enrichment has been taken to the provincial level and the little people by a national authority such as the TPA.


Guide Ronald (left) with Joe Bonggre and Jerry Agus pointing north towards the Simbu Gorge and Mount Wilhelm.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:25 PM
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They showed their appreciation by attending the workshop in numbers including almost all senior public servants, deputy governor Yaldrua Kelega and local industry members. In fact, the turn out in Simbu was best so far since this national program kicked off in Popondetta in May.
Simbu administration’s commerce, culture & tourism advisor Peter Bonggre was so excited that he declared: “I firmly believe this province can lead the country in tourism because not only do we have Mt Wilhelm, we have the best natural attractions including caves and we have the best culture.”


Workshop participants in Kundiawa listen attentively.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:31 PM
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Bonggre’s could be right because when you really look at it, Simbu basically has nothing in terms of economic activity except for a few patches of coffee. Its provincial government basically relys on the K28 million wages bill from the national government every year for circulation within the local economy. Kelega echoed similar sentiments in his opening remarks when he said PNG’s future national budgets could be delivered on tourism alone and he was the first to admit that the provincial government has never really prioritized tourism as an economic sector activity.

The picturesque Windy Lodge at Mirane near Kundiawa.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:38 PM
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However, he believes a more coordinated and partnership approach by both levels of government should see the benefits of tourism flow into the small rural communities.
There are already encouraging and positive tourism developments in Simbu. Apart from Mount Wilhelm - clans, tribes and village communities are united in preserving their natural habitats and environment, thus promoting eco-tourism activities. One such project is the Mailbobo Wildlife & Nature Conservation Centre which promotes eco-tourism with products such as bird watching, caving, waterfalls, trekking, orchid farming, ancestral burial sites and the skeleton house.

Some of the workshop participants and facilitators at the entrance Mailbobo Wildlife and Nature Conservation project.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:46 PM
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The centre which has two guest houses also promotes the preservation and conservation of natural biodiversity and further promotes nursery and reforestation. Project manager Jack Attekapa says the United Nations Development Program has been impressed with their programs, it is now working on Mailbobo as a pilot project. Mailbobo is in Dumun about 20 minutes drive from Kundiawa on the highlands highway towards Goroka. Previously notorious for criminal activities, especially at Wara Tamba, the project has converted many of the youths, who are now looking after Japanese and European tourists.

A view of the Simbu river from the Windy Lodge.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:54 PM
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Another plus for Simbu is the Tourism & Hospitality School at the Kundiawa Technical Vocational School. It is the first such school in the whole of the highlands region and was started two years ago and currently enrolls 32 students – who have hands on experience at the local hotels when they are hosting important guests or functions. Tourism teachers’ Peter Kai and Serah Goiye with the support of the school management continue to strive to give the best training to their students despite little or no support from the provincial government.

Participants of the tourism awareness workshop pose for a group photo.
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Old 29-06-2005, 02:56 PM
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Staff and students took the best care our group by serving meals at all functions. Provincial education adviser Thomas Tumun said the workshop was an eye opener and his management would do all it can to promote the development of tourism in Simbu by also supporting the school.

Staff with tourism & hospitality students at the Kundiawa Technical Vocational School.
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Old 29-06-2005, 04:25 PM
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The hotel industry in Kundiawa is all owned and managed by locals and are doing well. Kundiawa, itself might not be the prettiest of towns, buried in a crater and surrounded by rugged mountain ranges but a few landmarks stand out such as the historical Ega Lutheran Church built in the early 1930s - standing on the hilltop with its bright blue and maroon paint. When explorer Jim Taylor stood atop the mountains that surround Kundiawa and at what lay down below, he described it as “God’s own valley”.

Guide Ronald (left) with Joe Bonggre and Jerry Agus pointing north towards the Simbu Gorge and Mount Wilhelm.
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