BUSU – Two of my former classmates and I from Busu Secondary School in Lae shared an adventure with our former English teacher Mrs Bailey recently.
Together with the five students from the Grade 11 tourism class, which Mrs Bailey teaches, and a UPNG medical student, the three of us - Komuna Karo, Kimson Giyactulu and I – embarked on an awareness-raising expedition to the people of Gobadik in the Nabak area of Morobe Province.
(Mrs Bailey is seen here speaking to the villagers.)
The purpose of the trip was to explain to the people about two matters - tourism and APEC.
Our team left Busu Secondary School just before one o’clock in bright sunny weather. We travelled along a mountainous track which my friend Komuna explained had been built in colonial days by a Western logging company. In fact, we were heading to his village.
Arriving at Gobadic Lutheran parish church, we greeted the pastor, local village leaders and others and gathered everyone in the meeting house.
The villagers listened attentively as the tourism students took the stage with their teacher and introduced the program.
They said that tourism is a sustainable industry meaning it can preserve cultural practices (languages, songs, handicraft, cooking) and the environment (plants, endangered species, rivers, caves) while also generating revenue for government and local people.
The students described the methods involved in nourishing the tourism industry especially on hosting an influx of tourists within the simplicity of a village.
The first method involves secure and safe communities. This encourages people to have a friendly attitude which will create an environment conducive for tourists. Security is paramount. Visitors need to be taken care of and walk freely during a visit to a remote place.
Another very important aspect in this industry is accommodation. Guesthouses, lodges and motels all play their role. If a scenic site is located in a village like Gobadic, then guest houses or a motel must be built in order to cater for visiting tourists with revenue being the expected outcome.
Food is important. In this respect traditional Papua New Guinean recipes like igir, tongton, nangu and banana cake. When tourists try these traditional foods, they pay for them and income is generated.
Logistics are highly important in the tourism industry. On the famous Kokoda Trail, carriers assist tourists in their treks and are paid for their effort. Where there are roads, owners of hire cars benefit by earning income transporting tourists to their destination.
Tourism can be classified into categories: sports tourism, dark (cave) tourism, religious tourism, adventure tourism and spend tourism.
The team also discussed the disadvantages of tourism including the spread of disease, prostitution and theft which can be minimised upon careful monitoring by immigration officials, medical checks and giving effect to laws that carry severe penalties.
To my amazement the Gobadik villagers responded to the presentations with good questions and a huge interest in tourism.
The villagers also told us of sacred places, caves and interesting sites for tourists in Gobadik and Nabak. Truly Papua New Guinea is blessed with wonders.
As we approached the ending of the program, Komuna (who is an economist) explained APEC in simple Tok Pisin to the villagers, who at first were confused but, as he explained it, fully grasped what APEC is.
At the end of the program, Mrs Bailey and her students felt satisfied as we left Gobadik. Everyone was in awe and it was a happy moment of adventure and an accomplishment achieved in a simple way.