Walindi Plantation Resort
Walindi Plantation Resort

Our beautiful country continues to attract visitors over the past few years. The travel bug is strong in people across the globe with 197,632 international guests turning up in 2016. While people have numerous reasons to land on our shores, the business and holiday crowd together accounted for 55% of these trips.

Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) has been tirelessly promoting the country as a hot spot to global travellers with a new brand image and tagline – A MILLION DIFFERENT JOURNEYS. This report is an attempt to assess the success of these measures.

The focus: nature of visits, particularly holiday travel, and regions of origin with year-wise comparison.


The result: exclusive look at tourist-customer journey, traffic source countries and spending across major PNG destinations from 2003-16.

2016 tourism in a nutshell

Although 45% of our neighbours from Australia and New Zealand focused on business trips, they had the lion’s share of leisure trip arrivals (49%). 2016 also saw a surge of holiday makers arriving on cruise ships from these two countries.

More Americans and Europeans (more than 50%) preferred PNG for leisure-based personal trips. While 42% of Asian visitors sought business opportunities, 48% of Japanese arrivals were explorers.

Tourists from Pacific Islands, Canada, UK and Germany stayed the longest in PNG – average of 28, 25, 21 and 20 days respectively. For tourists from other countries, the average stay was between 11-16 days.

These visitors were no misers, either. They added Kina 1.95 billion to the economy with genuine tourists contributing around Kina 650 million.

Aussie tourists spend the most – Kina 171 million, followed by US holiday makers at Kina 129 million and Asian at Kina 166 million.

Which PNG regions benefited from all this interest in 2016?

Both tourism and business activities have a role to play in visitor arrivals.

Sightseers flocked to Milne Bay, Madang and ENBP in greater numbers, followed by New Ireland and WNBP. Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands and East Sepik Provinces received a fair share of travellers. In Coastal areas, 60% of tourist traffic came from cruise ships with stopovers in PNG.

On the other hand, NCD, Morobe and Southern Highlands have registered business visits due to mining and other industry activities.

Bona fide tourists from key source regions score over the years

Historical holiday travel comparison (2003-2016) throws up some interesting figures. Except for a lull during 2008-2009 due to the global economy crisis, tourism reflects an upward trend.

Source Market 2016 2003
Australia 24,677 6,310
New Zealand 1,776 309
Oceania 1,386 217
China 1,502 118
Japan 1,451 2,805
Rest of Asia 3,857 1,251
UK 3,833 491
Germany 2,420 615
France 702 116
USA 6,520 1,799
Canada 910 126

Australia remains the most important source of visitors – 88,092 sightseers and business guests. New Zealand and Oceania continue to send more people across for business purposes.

Although the US is the second largest market for PNG, only 12% of holiday crowd come from this country. A steady influx of travellers from Canada has seen the numbers jump from 2003 to 2016.

Japan is a key tourist market for PNG as it is a high spending one. But its internal problems have skewed numbers. In 2005, 4,315 holiday makers arrived, while 2011 saw a massive drop to 1,765.

Europeans generally stay for longer and are a valuable tourist group. Holiday arrivals from UK improved between 2003-16. Germany and France show similar increase in tourist numbers.

With an Approved Destination Status signed in 2005, China is an emerging source target. The result – improved tourist activity over the last decade. Likewise, sightseers from other Asian countries have slowly increased over the years.

Useful snippets from the report

  • 15 cruise ships visited PNG in 2016 bringing in 19,123 visitors. They alone accounted for 10% of leisure-travel footfalls.
  • Marketing promotions by TPA offices in Europe, Australia, US and New Zealand led to increase in tourists.
  • New flights by Air Niugini on Japan, China and Philippines route has encouraged more travellers from Asian countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Along with environmental factors, PNG scores as a niche destination for adventure, cultural and outdoor activities among visitors from US.


  • A steady government in PNG has ensured a rise in tourist activity over the last decade. Maintaining this stability is vital for future progress on the tourism front.

A boost for people and country

Both small and large operators in this industry stand to benefit from these promotion efforts in the coming years.

International visitor numbers are expected to grow at an annual rate of 8% between 2017-2021. The arrival of an estimated 300,000 travellers will enrich the economy by Kina 3.0 billion.

If TPA manages to achieve its long-term objectives, tourism will be a significant contributor to PNG’s economy by 2025-35.
Report by: Marketing & Research Division

Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority

Email: info@papuanewguinea.travel

Website: www.papuanewguinea.travel