Peter O’Neill, prime minister of Papua New Guinea, has unveiled plans to invest as much as US$5 million each year over the next five years into global tourism campaigns designed to boost the destination’s international visitor arrival numbers.
Tourism, he said, was an untapped resource and one that was often forgotten in the rush to pull minerals from the ground.
“Tourism offers huge potential for the country, not just in the shape of foreign exchange earnings but just as importantly from the perspective of job creation,” explained O’Neill.
“As a country, Papua New Guinea has been truly blessed to have been bestowed with some of the most beautiful natural assets that any country could wish for.
“Our scenery is breathtaking, our oceans and the opportunity they present to scuba divers and surfers are some of the best in the world, our trekking, and particularly the Kokoda Track, is legendary and everything is overlaid with one of the most vibrant, diverse and colourful cultures to be found anywhere on the planet,” he added.
Papua New Guinea attracts approximately 100,000 visitors annually.
“When people think of tourism in this country, invariably they think of planes and hotels but what we all need to remember is that tourism generates more than just foreign exchange earnings,” continued O’Neill.
“Tourism also generates a plethora of jobs in many, many areas – fishing, agri-business, cultural activities, building, sport, transport and hospitality to name just a few.
“Key to everything are the benefits we all stand to accrue from tourism and the flow on effect they create.
“These enable us to build better hospitals, schools, roads and provide services to the benefit of each and every man, woman and child in Papua New Guinea.”
Officials hope to international tourism numbers increase by at least 20 per cent over the coming two years.