Despite being the biggest Pacific nation, Papua New Guinea is lagging behind its neighbours, holding only 10% of the regional tourism market, says the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Loi Bakani. And on a global scale, PNG ranks last in terms of benefitting economically from tourism activity.
Although endowed with rich environmental and cultural resources, the tourism industry has contributed little to PNG’s economic growth, the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Loi Bakani has told the 9th University of Papua New Guinea Tourism Convention.
In a keynote address , Bakani said he was again calling on the government to invest in tourism and agriculture, noting ‘these sectors provide a real chance to transform the lives of people around PNG’.
‘We know the tourism industry contributes significantly to social and economic development and its impact is far reaching to every strata of society.
‘It creates jobs, foreign exchange, encourages entrepreneurship and has significant spill-over effects in commerce and transport.
‘Tourism is one sector that has the growth potential or can be a growth catalyst to improving the living standards of our rural poor.’
Tourism’s global contribution
Bakani cited figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, which said tourism generated US$7.6 trillion and 277 million jobs in the global economy in 2014.
The WTTC report shows that globally, tourism contributed 3.1% of a country’s GDP, but when indirect contributions were taken into account (transport, for example), its contribution rose to 9.8%.
‘Tourism generated 3.6% of the total employment around the world in 2014 and its total contribution to employment was 9.4% through all the indirect and induced economic benefits.
‘Of the 184 countries surveyed in 2014, PNG was ranked last in terms of these economic benefits. Tourism’s contribution was just 1% of GDP and its total contribution accounted for just 2.1%,’ he said.
Employment in the tourism sector was just 0.5%, and when including the indirect benefits, it generated just 1.8% of employment in PNG, he said.
Fiji an example
Bakani also pointed out that Fiji holds 41% of the South Pacific tourism market, ‘despite it being as big as Milne Bay’.
‘These statistics stand to demonstrate that we have a lot to learn from our neighbour before tourism becomes a catalyst for growth in our country.’
‘PNG can tap into these opportunities, if supported with the right resources and appropriate policies as well as the political will to drive this sector,’ he said.
Law and order as well as infrastructure (roads, airports, ports and electricity) are priorities.
‘The recent upgrades at Jackson’s International Terminal, for example, and the Kookaburra (Kumul) Flyover have certainly enhanced the travel experience in Port Moresby.
‘These initiatives are a good start, but clearly not sufficient if we want to grow the tourism sector across the country.’
He said reliable water and energy supplies, as well as safety measures are essential.
‘Clearly, the Government should take measures to ensure the safety of tourists. However there needs to be a change in the mindset and attitude of our people. We must learn to respect ourselves, other people who live within our communities, and most importantly, the tourists who come to our shores.’
He said PNG’s central bank was encouraging people to get involved in the tourism industry through its financial literacy program ‘to empower our people with appropriate knowledge and financial capacity to take part meaningfully in the tourism industry and other activities’.