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Kokoda Trail fails when bureaucracy prevails

The legislation smacks of colonialism and will result in PNG becoming the only country in the world to manage its most popular tourism destination as an environmental resource

Kokoda trail

Adventure Kokoda | The National

SYDNEY - The proposed Kokoda Track Management Authority Bill is based on a false premise.

It is not a Papua New Guinea bill. It was developed in secret by an Australian aid official from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra.

Neither the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, which administers six acts of parliament protecting the environment, nor the new Climate Change Authority was involved in its development.

Neither was the Tourism Promotion Authority which is responsible for policies associated with PNG’s most popular tourism destination, the Kokoda Track.

The bill is essentially a bureaucratic sleight-of-hand to cover the past failures of the DFAT-Kokoda Initiative and the Kokoda Track Authority in their management of Kokoda tourism.

Since these bodies took control in 2009, the number of Kokoda trekkers has fallen by 46% due to the dysfunctional mismanagement system they imposed.

Over the past 10 years, this has resulted in a total loss of K49 million in foregone wages, campsite fees and local purchases for villagers.

In any other jurisdiction, a professional administrator would be appointed to rectify the situation.

However, DFAT’s solution was to replace the Kokoda Track Authority with a Kokoda Track Management Authority to be run by the same people hoping for a different result!

Kokoda mapThe KTMA Bill, which smacks of colonialism, will result in PNG becoming the only country in the world to manage its most popular tourism destination as an environmental resource.

This will be for the benefit of foreign aid-funded officials and consultants rather than as a tourism enterprise for the economic benefit of villagers along the trail.

Customary landowners need to follow prime minister James Marape’s lead in ‘taking back PNG’ by ‘taking back their Kokoda Trail’.


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