World Tourism Day 2022: Rethinking Tourism
Image: Staff of the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority celebrating World Tourism Day 2022.
A Message from our CEO, Mr. Eric Mossman Uvovo:
This year, official World Tourism Day festivities will be taking place 2,180 miles west of Papua New Guinea, in neighboring Indonesia’s beautiful breathtaking Bali province. The theme for this year is, ‘Rethinking Tourism!’ and what a fitting theme it is, especially for Papua New Guinea. What with everything that has been going on both internationally and domestically, rethinking is exactly what the country needs. A rethinking of attitudes, a rethinking of systems and a rethinking of ways of doing things.
World Tourism Day gives us the opportunity to review tourism, rethink our approaches and mechanisms and reinvigorate our drive toward maximizing our country’s tourism potential.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has decided to use this theme for 2022 as a driving force for the refocusing of efforts from corporate and industrial endeavors to an emphasis on people and the planet. As a member of the UNWTO the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) could not agree more with this theme and believes that a return to an emphasis on people and our planet is exactly what PNG needs as the country and the world begins a post-pandemic new way of life.
The UNWTO released a 'Resilience Through Crisis' series of videos featuring stories of tourism businesses in the Pacific and their survival stories during and after the pandemic. One of the stories featured PNG’s largest inbound tour operator, Trans Niugini Tours (TNT) and its owner Mr. Bob Bates - one of Papua New Guinea's pioneers in tourism. Mr. Bates, shared how he shifted his market focus from a reliance on international markets to domestic markets as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift has drastically changed the way in which tourism operators like TNT have had to do business and market their products and services. Thus, move to bring prominence back to the people and the planet this year could not be more relevant and practically sound.
With this year’s theme being ‘rethink tourism’, PNGTPA reemphasizes the importance of tourism in PNG, especially living in the Post-COVID-19 new norm. The world’s governing tourism body (UNWTO) is now focusing on people and the planet and we at the PNGTPA are aligned with this direction.
We have begun rethinking our primary business objectives so we continue to promote and maintain growth in our tourism businesses particularly at the SME and MSME levels and are focused on preserving and protecting our biodiversity. PNG is a breathtaking place to visit and we are ready to receive all visitors.
-Chief Executive Officer, PNGTPA, Mr. Eric Mossman Uvovo
By all accounts the potential for growth in tourism in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is immense. The country’s strategic geographic positioning and its diverse flora and fauna, its dazzling natural beauty and its relatively intact and diverse traditional heritage are each main tourism products in themselves. In fact, Papua New Guinea remains an adventure destination for lovers of nature-based activities such as bird watching, trekking, diving, surfing and fishing to name a few.
While there are challenges for the tourism sector similar to those in many developing nations, the sector has taken some significant strides in the last 5 to 10 years to boost tourism growth. This has mainly been in the areas of increased investment in niche tourism products and services, the promotion of cultural events and festivities and the re-development of marketing strategies to better open up access to PNG’s wealth of destinations like the remote pristine islands and atolls for international cruise ship visits.
A number of major interventions by the private sector in key sectors such as cruise ships operations, staging and hosting of major events and activities have helped in the identifying of areas of need that need development to render tourism as a more viable economic sector. However, rethinking tourism is not enough. To truly realise PNG’s full tourism potential, a carefully crafted plan is required.
Thankfully, the recently launched Tourism Sector Development Plan (2022 – 2026) is that plan and follows on from the National Tourism Master Plan (2007 – 2017). It envisions the overall economic value of tourism in the nation, explores how we can increase the numbers of tourist arrivals in Papua New Guinea and looks at ways to maximize sustainable growth for the social and environmental benefit of all Papua New Guineans.
Inter-agency cooperation is the cornerstone of the Tourism Sector Development Plan which the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) charged as lead agency to co-ordinate. The TSDP acknowledges that infrastructure and social issues such as crime need urgent addressing and that cooperation and coordination throughout all subsectors is essential for success.
Its overall goal is to support the national strategic plans of Vision 2050 and the MTDP III, contribute to PNG’s overall economic prosperity, and gradually make PNG less dependent on the non-renewable sector.
While implementation will be predominantly private-sector led, the government’s overall leadership will be necessary, and its timely financial investment for business growth and strengthening the enabling subsectors will be needed to provide the necessary impetus for the sector to expand.
At the end of the day, with ‘rethinking tourism’ in mind, PNGTPA encourages all partners, stakeholders and persons working in the tourism sector to come together as we celebrate World Tourism Day and collectively ‘rethink tourism’ for Papua New Guinea.