Research vital for tourism growth

Research is needed to improve tourism as a major sustainable economic sector for Papua New Guinea.

Member for Kundiawa-Gembogl Mr Tobias Kulang and President of Divine Word University Fr Jan Czuba highlighted this at an annual tourism expo hosted by tourism and hospitality management students of DWU at the Madang campus on Friday 18th September.

Mr Kulang and Fr Czuba were guests of the 8th annual “Liklik Diwai Turism Expo” which is staged by final year Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management students as part of their assessment work in the unit Events Management.

 The theme for the expo was “Increasing tourism opportunities through quality research” and saw various stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector take part.

Mr Kulang and Fr Czuba said while Australia, Fiji and many Asian countries benefit immensely from tourism, PNG with its abundant natural beauty and diverse cultures misses out on attracting as many tourists.

Fr Czuba said many countries in the Asia-Pacific region lacked the attractive natural beauty and diversity of traditional cultures that PNG has, yet they attract large numbers of tourists.

He said the image problem PNG has as a society riddled with crime, lack of tourism infrastructure and high travel and living costs were some of the main reasons why tourists shun the country.

Fr Czuba said the situation can be improved through research that identifies the problems and informs the government and other stakeholders to address the problems and attract more tourists.

He also pointed out that the present tourist visitor numbers the government has are distorted because there were people coming into PNG using tourist visas but are here for other purposes.

He said the Office of Tourism, Art and Culture has an attractive Master Plan, but it is not backed by research.

Fr Czuba said the government can have master plans and policies on tourism, but without research and resources backing them, the tourism sector will not be developed to its potential as a major economic resource.

Mr Kulang, who is a business accounting graduate of the former Divine Word Institute, said billions of kina in tourism money circulates within the Asia-Pacific region, but PNG misses out.

He spoke of the difficulties his electorate faces in bringing in tourists event though it hosts a tourist attraction in Mount Wilhelm, the highest mountain in PNG and Oceania with its high altitude natural beauty.

Mr Kulang said he is carrying out research on how best his district can make Mt Wilhelm attractive to tourists and thereby become a sustainable revenue source for the people in the electorate, Chimbu Province and the country.

He called on the graduates of the tourism and hospitality management program at DWU to go out into the workforce and conduct research that would inform and guide all stakeholders to change the status quo so PNG could benefit more from tourism.

Mr Kulang and Fr Czuba congratulated the students for staging the expo with a theme that highlighted the importance of research as this was important. Meanwhile, students also presented their research reports as part of the expo.