First Highlands Tourism Forum in Mt. Hagen

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Mr Agus said tourism is also a sector that does not discriminate between the young and old, skilled and unskilled…

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Above: Minister Kulang (centre) and Mr Agus (right) being escorted by Highlands dancers at the start of the forum

THE Tourism Promotion Authority has stressed that tourism as an industry cuts across all sectors and as such the success of tourism depends on the level of support from all other sectors.

TPA chief executive officer Mr Jerry Agus made the statement to tourism industry members and stakeholders last Friday in Mount Hagen during the first ever highlands regional tourism workshop under the theme “Networking and Stakeholder Collaboration to Maximize Tourism Development Opportunities in the Highlands Region”.

Mr Agus said there also needs to be political will and leadership from the top down to the people at the community level in order to successfully drive tourism development in PNG.

“Now is the time to develop the tourism industry as a buffer industry so that after the mining and petroleum era, the economy can still be sustained,” he said.

Mr Agus said tourism is also a sector that does not discriminate between the young and old, skilled and unskilled or whether you are male or female because in tourism everyone has something to contribute and also to benefit from.

“The missing link is the strategic partnership with all stakeholders and the government so that industry and stakeholders are seen to be engaging in a meaningful way,” he said.

“If everyone in PNG can embrace the importance of tourism and contribute meaningfully then tourism will surely benefit everyone.”

Mr Agus said highlands region has some of PNG’s iconic tourism products including; Mt Wilhelm, Asaro Mudman, Huli Wigman, Waghi River and Kagul River white water rafting, Beaver Falls, Silimuli girls traditional singsing group, Kuk Historical Site, Baiyer River Wildlife Sanctuary, Bird Watching, Trekking and Nature Tours and lively traditional cultures among others.

He said other products can be built around these existing iconic products to value-add and sold to the rest of the world.

Mr Agus said highlanders are generally friendly and caring people but often misunderstood due to law and order issues so TPA will be conducting a major tourism awareness in the region soon.

Keynote speaker and Tourism Arts & Culture Minister Hon. Tobias Kulang said tourism development must be properly coordinated and delivered for maximum impact not only in the highlands but around the country particularly in the provinces identified by the government under the Tourism Zone Initiative Scheme.

Mr Kulang said the strategic objectives for the highlands region now would be to establish partnerships with all provincial government, develop tourism master plans for each province, establish provincial tourism bureaus and establish provincial tourism industry associations and for TPA to have a regional presence.

More than 150 participants from the seven highlands provinces including Hela and Jiwaka attended the workshop in Mount Hagen last Friday.

For further information, email PNG Tourism Promotion Authority media coordinator Mr. Colin Taimbari: colin.taimbari@papuanewguinea.travel – See more at: http://www.papuanewguinea.travel/papua-new-guinea-tourism-promotion-authority/x,76,1,1,566,,/first-highlands-tourism-forum-in-mt-hagen.html#sthash.MJNg4kyb.dpuf

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