The head of Papua New Guinea's Tourism Promotion Authority says the local industry is focussed on making the country a major adventure tourism destination.
Peter Vincent says PNG is trying forge a tourism brand distinct from other traditional beach resort-based tourism destinations in the Pacific region.
He spoke to Johnny Blades.
PETER VINCENT: We all talk about the potential of tourism in Papua New Guinea. But when it comes to giving that potential the kick that it requires to make it work is really what's required by all stakeholders, I guess.
JOHNNY BLADES: If you had a wishlist, what's required to develop it to be on the track to where it should be?
PV: I think our biggest wish is a little bit more support and a little bit more recognition from the government. And I think that it's happening and it's been happening for the last four or five years since the development of the Tourism Master Plan, which is the road map that indicates where we want to go and what we need to do to get there. The government has got copies of those documents and I think the priority is assisting, from mining, petroleum gas and all those areas. We are unlike any of the other small island countries, where the focus is particularly one sector, which is tourism. Papua New Guinea's focus is not on tourism, it's on a whole lot of other issues.
JB: If you have to summarise what PNG has got to offer to tourists from around the world, how would you say it?
PV: We want to see ourselves not as a tourism destination. We don't want to be seen and perceived and look like the other South Pacific island countries. We are not about the resources, we are not about sun, sand and sea. We are a lot more than what the other countries offer within the Pacific region. We are a lot more an adventure destination and I think that's where we want to be. Where we want to see ourselves going over the years is to become a major adventure destination, and you're not going to see that focus change. I think we probably want to develop that as a niche activity. The numbers may not be great, but in terms of returns, our returns are much, much higher. Because the people that we want to see come to Papua New Guinea are the people that have higher disposable income at the higher end of the market, not the three-day, four-day stays - no, we're not interested in that segment of the market. We're interested in the market that comes for 15 to 21 days, that's what we're seeing. The more they stay here, the more they spend. So that's the sort of market that we're after.
JB: People like Germans will be increasingly looking at PNG, won't they?
PV: That's our focus. Our focus really is over 50% coming in from Australia. Our numbers coming out from New Zealand are looking very high. We're looking at increasing our activities in New Zealand, particularly looking at the adventure stuff. Of course, we're going to open up an office in Russia next year. We're going to open up an office in Israel next year. A lot of people say there's $100 million coming out of China, but how many of them are really outbound international tourists is what we have to identify first.