Big loss for Bougainville & PNG with death of Joe Maineke
Ocean waves, tidal waves & the infamous Bamu bore

Get to know your country better: become a local tourist

The spectacular scenery of PNGFRANCIS NII

An entry in the Crocodile Prize
Award for Tourism, Arts and Culture Writing

IN Papua New Guinea when people talk about tourists or tourism, the general picture they have in their minds is people of different skin colours, particularly white and yellow, armed with backpacks and cameras hiking up mountains, boating along rivers, diving in the sea, walking through jungle and spending their money on local food, art, craft and accommodation.

This is the general perception of what tourism is about … foreigners coming to PNG and taking pleasure in the cultures, rituals, nature and scenery of our country.

Hence the promotion and focus is mostly geared in that direction, which is fine as far as luring foreign exchange is concerned.

PNG - a veritable nation of nations - offers variety in diversity and some of the best tourist attractions in the world. This land with such spectacular geography, brilliant local peoples, lustrous flora, breathtaking cultural rituals, and so much more.

How much do Papua New Guineans know about their own country; how many have immersed themselves in its delights? This may seem an unfair question to ask people who have been born and bred in this country? Yet it is testing and searching.

How many Papua New Guineans have stood atop PNG – looking out from the summit of our highest peak Mt Wilhelm and utter in awe, ‘wow this is my country’?

How many have swum in the brilliant blue seas of New Britain, Manus, New Ireland or Bougainville and took delight in the underwater forests of the sea with their corals and multitudinous marine life?

How many have boated or canoed the mighty Sepik or Purari river systems?

How many have walked through some of the thick coastal jungles and highlands rain forests breathing the fresh air and bathing in the sounds and sights?

How many have met, sat and shared betel nut or a snack with Bainings, Telefolmins, Kukukus, Gogodalas or Marawakas to name a few of our wonderful array of traditional people in their homelands?

How many Papua New Guineans have seen a bird of paradise sitting in a tree and singing and dancing in prodigious splendour?

How many have witnessed a Sepik skin cutting ritual, or seen the Kontu shark callers, the Huli wig students or the burial rituals of the Gulf?  

Most Papua New Guineans, whether the elite or the ordinary people, have not witnessed such things in their own country. Maybe some have looked at pictures in books or watched a video or heard from friends but most will not have seen.

PNG has some of the world’s best tourist spots and attractions that we locals have not experienced and that is sad.

There’s no excuse. Most people in rural areas are kind, hospitable and well behaved. They like to make friends with strangers.

The prospect for local tourism is beginning to look up with the Air Niugini’s low cost travel service through its subsidiary, Link PNG. The platform has been built.

The Tourism Promotion Authority and tourism providers should take advantage of this to promote local tourism by offering affordable rates especially for group travel around PNG by ordinary Papua New Guineans.

In this way, we will not only get to know our country better but also foster friendship, harmony and unity that will evoke a positive change in attitudes and a pride in who we are.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Francis Nii

You are right bro. I intentionally didn't give any description of the mountain because I want people, particularly Simbus, to find out themselves which part of their homeland is this beautiful rocky scenery with a modern road system carved through it.

Dr Clement Waine

I like the picture.
That is my country!

Francis Nii

Hi Phil, You are right,there is no such travellers' service in PNG. Agreed it could be another good way to stimulate local tourism.

Phil Fitzpatrick

A good way to stimulate local tourism is the cater for the armchair travellers.

Most of the states in Australia run weekend television programmes, funded by their tourism authority, that show people the great places worth a visit.

The idea is to get people out of their armchairs and onto trains, boats, planes and into the family car.

I don't think I've seen anything similar on PNG TV.

Michael Dom

Sarah Sipani - you are pure gold.

Francis Nii

Good thoughts, Bob. I believe Oala and our friends at Tourism and Culture are reading this. It's something for them to think about.

Thank you, Corney. Even when the Apocalypse comes and the Paradisea is on the verge of collapsing into the arroyo, I will still sing "O rise, All you sons of this land..." I am in the league of flag wavers and not oracles of doom.

Francis Nii

John, the idea has raised some interest and there have been some informal discussions among the SWA members, particularly Drekore, Awagl, Mathias and others. I think they have given a name for it and they have also mentioned it on Facebook.

Nothing serious as yet because of other commitments. Once we get them over we can resurrect the idea.

Corney Korokan Alone

Well done Francis,
Awareness of Paradisea is critical.It's not a lost Paradise. It's Paradise to discover, embrace and make songs about.

You mastered the scalpel to deliver a find cut on that.

It will take time but it's certainly seeping in.

Bob Cleland

Hey Francis. I think you're on to something important here.

Get those local tourist bodies talking to each other, get reasonable low cost accommodation spread more widely, get more and better surface travel going (to match Link PNG's move), get some local tourism packages offered and push appropriate advertising and you'll have a powerful national unifying movement.

PNG never had a shortage of entrepreneurs. Some initial government subsidising and internal tourism will surely get moving.

Francis Nii

Thank you so much Mrs Short. This is icing on the cake from someone who has been through it and done it all.

Kindly convey my gratitude to Sarah Sipani for sharing her practical experience as a local tourist with us.

I am sure others will be inspired by her story.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Francis, good proposal there in terms of going local, knowing your own local areas first etc.

Contributors to PNG Attitude and the Crocodile Prize can arrange such ventures in their own domain.

I made a suggestion to Jimmy Awagl once about walking the Dma-Paraul track after reading his post.

Something small, but we can do it in such a way that we give back to the local communities.

The photo with this article keep beckoning me!

Francis Nii

Thank you gentlemen for your comments. As I have pointed out, Air Niugini through its subsidiary Link PNG is offering subsidised services to the rural areas.

The service has just begun to roll out. When it is in full swing, this is one opportunity. We also have PMVs and boat services.

Pooling resources, negotiating and travelling as groups would ease problems than individual efforts.

Possibly best way is to start small in your own location with like minded people and expand from there.

I don't know why stakeholders are working in isolation, John. I think the Tourism Promotion Authority has to initiate consultative meetings with stakeholders to develop a coercive approach to the industry.

Barbara Short

Francis, I put your essay on the Sepik Region DD Forum and there have been a number of comments. I thought you would like to read this one from Sarah Sipani.

"It is very true and my personal experiences of discovering my own country has given me a greater love and appreciation like no other. When I started my first job in 2004, I made it my business to visit the whole of PNG and yes I am proud to have visited all provinces including Jiwaka and Hela, and maybe more districts of PNG.

"Thankfully the job allowed me to go to the most remotest parts of PNG, even climbing Mt Whilhem, Mt Gilewe, Islands of Milne Bay, PNG borders etc and meet wonderful people. This implanted in me the love of my country that nothing can ever take away from me, even when I travelled to the most developed countries in the world and enjoyed the luxuries of life.....the fires and beauty of my country holds me firm to my roots because of my experiences.

"Even when I get job offers to go abroad or leave PNG, something draws me back and its those experiences of discovering my country. I may have the money to go for holidays in Cairns, Brisbane, Hong Kong etc....but most times, you would see me getting on a flight to Mt Hagen, Lae, Goroka, Manus, and occasionally to Wewak or just get on a boat and go around the Motuan coastline. There is more to see and do in this country and even in the Sepik Region. There are a few things I have learnt as a result of discovering my own country:

1) Your Identity : you get to know yourself in the bigger picture of PNG.

2) Your purpose as Citizen of this great nation: You have a plan and purpose as a citizen of this country. You have to find that significant place where you contribute to the development of this country. No person in this country is a spectator.

3) You learn to live as a citizen of this country, taking ownership of the challenges and issues and learning to mediate and negotiate differences with your own country men and women. How you communicate to a Highlander or a Coastal man etc. You learn that when you step out into their world.

" I would encourage the young Sepiks, especially those with extra cash that you use to buy beer or party around to discover this country. Go climb Mt Wilhelm, Mt Giliwe, Mt Turu, hit the Highlands Highway from Lae to Mendi town or Pogera........go to Vanimo and visit Batas, drive from Wewak to Pagwi, get on a canoe and come down the river. Go to Alotau or even to Arawa town and see the remains of a great mine etc.

"At a time where we have so many options to choose from what we do and where we want to live, at a time when opportunities to move abroad are more, it is also a time when our country needs us most as well.

"There is no better way of falling in love with your country and taking ownership of our have to travel the full country. I have done it and its my testament of the kind of work I do to be a good citizen of this country."

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

Nii, You are right. Local tourists are lacking in PNG.

But I guess the high cost of living and transportation costs kill people. Thats why you find senior public servants living in squatter settlements in our urban centers.


Arnold Mundua

Bro...good one. Food for thought for the Tourism Promotion Authority and other relevant government agencies.

I have yet to see Manus, Kavieng and the North Solomons and, although I have friends there, I can't visit them because balus tiket andap tumas....

John Kaupa Kamasua

Francis - the title says it all. Something now for the TPA and relevant bodies to munch on.

But one question I want to ask is why are the different bodies working in isolation of each other?

There is no sharing of information, no networks ... just people doing their own bits while the tourism agencies in some of the provinces are dead.

Mathias Kin

Good write that picture too.

Leonard Fong Roka

Nii - You're right. Really love to do that but moni tasol save problem.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)