TOURISM PNG’S ‘sleeping giant’
PNG’S tourism stocks are looking up as
If ever Port Moresby had good reason to charge ahead with tourism infrastructure, it is the APEC Summit scheduled for the nation’s capital in 2018.
The summit will attract thousands of visitors, including powerful leaders from 21 APEC countries. Among them will be presidents and prime ministers from the US, Russia, China, Japan, Australia and Indonesia.
PNG’S Prime Minister, Peter O’neill, has said the summit represents a ‘coming of age’ for PNG on the international stage.
It also represents a coming of age for Port Moresby, in terms of hotel capacity.
It has long been the view that the city has a shortage of rooms, a view endorsed by the PNG APEC 2018 Coordination Authority, which quickly identified the shortage of rooms as a key challenge.
High room costs, particularly during the PNG LNG project construction boom, have also been viewed as a problem. Well, there is good news. There has been a flurry of hotel investment and development in Port Moresby since the announcement that APEC is coming to town.
Forthcoming openings include RH Group’s 433-room Stanley Hotel and PNG’S first Hilton Hotel, both in Waigani district. The year 2015 saw the opening of the Holiday Inn Express budget hotel, while other hotels in the capital, such as the Gateway and Airways, have expanded or renovated.
On the outskirts of Port Moresby, the Loloata Dive Resort is undergoing a total rebuild and, when finished, will provide the first serious resort experience close to the capital.
Then there’s the giant Paga Hill Estate, a harbourside development that will not only provide Port Moresby with
with the arrivals and departures areas receiving major upgrades.
The airport, additionally, has a new retail section with luxury brands, duty free and locally made handicrafts available.
The developments bode well for the national airline, Air Niugini, which has the goal of Port Moresby becoming a regional hub for the South Pacific.
The Chairman of the airline, Sir Fredrick Reiher, says the National Government has taken a visionary approach in the redevelopment and upgrading of Jacksons International Airport.
‘The impressive redevelopment of Jacksons Airport is making passenger movement much more customer-friendly and will contribute significantly to our goal of making Port Moresby the regional gateway from our Pacific neighbours with Asia and the world. The upgrading of domestic airports will also benefit our operations and enable us to expand services as demand grows.’
Sir Frederick has also urged the tourism industry to keep costs down. ‘One of the factors that has inhibited tourism growth since independence has been the relatively high cost of most PNG’S rich and colourful calendar of cultural events includes the Goroka Show, the Mount Hagen Show, the Crocodile Festival and the National Kenu [Canoe] and Kundu Festival.
Kokoda remains a major tourist attraction, along with activities such as diving, surfing, bird watching and game fishing.
In another positive tourism development, a relaxation of tourist visa rules for Australians is on the cards for late 2016.
It’s likely that visas will be available on arrival when Air Niugini starts direct services into special tourist zones such as Gurney-alotau.