Papua New Guinea tour operators say the continuing and unreliable airlines services are affecting the tourism industry.
Bougainville Experience Tours (BET), based out of Arawa in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB), say the sky high airfares, sees less domestic tourists taking up their products.
Owner and operator of BET, Mr. Zhon Bosco Miriona, said even though he would love to have more Papua New Guinean tourist, his visitors are mainly international tourists.
“Return tickets to AROB are usually in the range of +K2000.”
” For an everyday Papua New Guinean, this is a lot and that is just for the airline ticket alone.”
Mr. Miriona explained that even though he got a lot of positive feedback for his products, from Papua New Guineans, it is the international tourists that are more able to afford his products, including that of the expensive airfares.
He said BET hopes to look into other options to get tourists into AROB, including direct flights from Cairns or even from other Melanesian countries, like Vanuatu or Fiji.
“It would be good to see our airlines partner with the PNG Tourism Authority (PNGTPA), to tailor packages that are suited more to the domestic market… We will talk to them and see how this goes.
Despite this setback, BET have a fully booked calendar of events, particularly with the international cruise ships that will be calling to port this year, something that Mr. Miriona is looking forward to.
Another local tour operator, in Ms. Alice Alu of Karanas Comfort Tours, based out of Kavieng in the New Ireland Province, said she has had to cancel on some tourist, because their flights got delayed.
“We had almost 8 people that cancelled their trip with us, because of this issue.”
“This included 3 international tourists and 5 domestic tourists.”
Ms. Alice explained that some of her guests were also stranded at their transit points as well, which was added was quite unfortunate, as it meant they had to fork out extra from their travelling budget, to pay for the layover.
Karanas Comfort Tours is will carrying out in house training and tourism awareness as well; something that the local tour operator carries out on a quarterly basis.
“This are just refresher courses that we carry out for our workers, to make sure they continue to observe the best practices and safeguard themselves and our guests in the business of tourism.”
Both local tour operators maintain that the Government could be doing more to encourage the growth of tourism in the country.