PNG’s un­tapped tourism

New ho­tel boss Marc Eh­ler says PNG has the right in­gre­di­ents to at­tract more vis­i­tors. David James re­ports.

Paradise - - Contents -

Pa­pua New Guinea has un­tapped tourism po­ten­tial, ac­cord­ing to Marc Eh­ler, the re­cently ap­pointed group gen­eral man­ager of Co­ral Sea Ho­tels. “The leisure and ad­ven­ture tourism prospects in PNG are enor­mous,” he says.

Eh­ler, who joined the Steamships-owned Co­ral Sea Ho­tels chain at the start of the year, has vis­ited 70 coun­tries and worked in many of them.

He says a com­par­i­son with the Mal­dives and Sey­chelles is in­struc­tive.

“They have sun, sea and sand only and they are hugely suc­cess­ful in tourism. Here, PNG has so much more: the fauna and the flora, the bird life, the moun­tains, game fish­ing, ex­tra­or­di­nary div­ing, the cul­tural shows, and the tribes. You can truly ex­pe­ri­ence ‘a mil­lion dif­fer­ent journeys’ as the PNG Tourism Pro­mo­tion Au­thor­ity’s slo­gan sug­gests.

“PNG’s cul­ture is very nat­u­ral. It is not staged, and that is very unique.

“When you go to the coun­try­side, you get to know the real cul­ture, and dur­ing the cul­tural

When you go to the coun­try­side, you get to know the real cul­ture, and dur­ing the cul­tural shows tourists love a sing-sing and to dance along.

shows tourists love a sing-sing and to dance along,” he says.

Eh­ler notes that PNG cur­rently has niche tourism mar­kets, which fo­cus on moun­taineer­ing and div­ing and history, with the Kokoda Trail be­ing one of the most fa­mous at­trac­tions.

He says Co­ral Sea Ho­tels is mainly tar­get­ing cor­po­rate and busi­ness seg­ments of the travel mar­ket. He says the com­pany is one of the long­est-stand­ing ho­tel op­er­a­tors in PNG and has a coun­try-wide net­work, which is the key to main­tain­ing a cor­po­rate clien­tele. “We have a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in terms of be­ing well known in the mar­ket be­cause of our long-stand­ing pres­ence in PNG,” he says. “We have dif­fer­ent types of ho­tels whereby we can po­si­tion our­selves in dif­fer­ent star cat­e­gories. I can of­fer a three, four and fives­tar ho­tel; that gives us a good range for the con­tract busi­ness seg­ment to of­fer dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories for dif­fer­ent needs. “If there are meet­ing re­quire­ments in Port Moresby, Mount Ha­gen, Lae, Goroka and Ki­unga we can of­fer that as be­ing part of the Co­ral Sea Ho­tels.” Eh­ler says this year will be a good one be­cause of the many APEC meet­ings and the APEC Lead­ers meet­ing in Novem­ber. He says Co­ral Sea has a strong po­si­tion. “We com­pete on the fact that we have been here for a long time, we have very good con­nec­tions, and we have long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ships with con­tracted cor­po­rate busi­ness. “The chal­lenge will be 2019 and be­yond.” He ac­knowl­edges there will be greater com­pe­ti­tion with an­other new ho­tel en­try, the Hil­ton, com­ing at the end of this year. In Port Moresby, the to­tal num­ber of rooms “of de­cent in­ter­na­tional qual­ity” will be about 2200 by the end of this year, and they need to be filled.

Eh­ler says he has been pleas­antly sur­prised by his lo­cal staff. “I find peo­ple quite cour­te­ous and keen for new knowl­edge. There is cer­tainly po­ten­tial there, but we need to do more in men­tor­ing and coach­ing man­agers.”

The com­pany is de­vel­op­ing and in­tro­duc­ing se­nior man­age­ment pro­grams and has 18 se­nior man­agers in a de­vel­op­ment pro­gram.

From those pro­grams, it will be pos­si­ble to grow and de­velop na­tional man­agers to be­come bet­ter and more ef­fec­tive man­agers in Co­ral Sea Ho­tels, he says.

The new un­der­sea cable from Aus­tralia to PNG will also be im­por­tant for both the busi­ness and tourism mar­kets.

“Ob­vi­ously, you want to re­ally ex­pe­ri­ence the des­ti­na­tion, so con­nec­tiv­ity at first may not be that im­por­tant.

“But, later on, you will want to send the pic­tures of the amaz­ing na­ture and un­der­wa­ter corals and ocean life, peo­ple and cul­tural shows you have taken.

“So, it is over­all sig­nif­i­cant that Aus­tralia is pro­vid­ing this kind of sup­port to PNG.”

Get­ting in the groove … (clock­wise from op­po­site page) tourists dance along at a sing- sing; the Ela Beach Ho­tel, owned by Co­ral Sea; Marc Eh­ler.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Papua New Guinea

© PressReader. All rights reserved.