PNG PM wants tourists to flock to Manus

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Pic: Livian Oli

Below is an article that appeared in Perth Now.  The news is obviously pleasing to hear although some would argue that this should have been more a priority than the detention centre.  If it had been thought of several years ago, who knows what status Manus would get in the tourism industry.

Manus is Paradise in itself.  The islands that scatter around the mainland is just beautiful.  You know, it didn’t require the election campaigning to hear this news but lets hope that whoever gets into government realises the potential Manus has to become a mega tourism destination for the country.  After all, Manus is in need of a major transformation image wise.

Here’s the article:

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is seeking to turn Manus Island into a tourist mecca to boost the local economy once the Australian-funded immigration detention centre closes.

PNG is in the midst of an election campaign with voting kicking off June 24 to July 8.

Mr O’Neill was on Manus Island earlier this week campaigning with his local candidates from his People’s National Congress party.

“We need to promote tourism,” Mr O’Neill told an election rally as reported by EMTV.

Air Niugini, was flying over head to Pacific islands nations Palau and Micronesia, Mr O’Neill said.

“I will tell them to stop here, making sure that we have immigration and customs clearance.”

He also vowed to build a new airport terminal.

Despite the reputational damage from the detention centre, Manus Island is considered by some an idyllic tropical paradise with little-known surfing, diving and snorkelling spots, beautiful beaches and crystal clear water.

The detention centre is slated for closure at the end of October, after five years of operation.

This week almost 2000 detainees reached a conditional settlement with the Australian government and the managers of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

The class action was settled for $70 million plus roughly $20 million in costs to law firm Slater and Gordon, which Immigration Minister Peter Dutton derided in parliament as “ambulance chasers”.

The fate of 839 refugees and asylum seekers is up in the air.

Some may be resettled in the US, under a deal struck with the Obama Administration, which is begrudgingly being honoured by new President Donald Trump.

The US is subjecting Nauru and Manus Island refugees to “extreme vetting” procedures and it’s unclear when transfers will begin.

Others may be forced to remain in PNG.

As the centre progressively closes, people are being moved to a transit camp at East Lorengau.