With Papua New Guinea’s International Borders slowly opening up and travel restrictions eased, there has been a trickle of international tourists coming into the country, to experience what Tourism has to offer and local tour operator, PNG Tour Guides, have been quick to scoop up on this opportunity.
“We had a family from the USA, and a couple from Australia and Belgium,” said Owner of PNG Tour Guides, Mr. Dominic Tulo, who added that this inclusion to their already extensive lists of expatriate tourists, has been very encouraging for business.
“Expatriates have a very good network. If they have a good tour experience with you, their network is sure to know about it. This is how I picked up my international visitors,” Dominic said, explaining how word of mouth, enabled him to sign his first lot of international visitors.
PNG Tour Guides is also looking forward to more business from abroad, having already initiated talks with international tour operators, to host a number of small expedition boats in 2 years’ time.
“We even heard that there may be a big cruise ship coming into port here in Kokopo this November although no official confirmation has been given or announced by the responsible Government Bodies as yet.”
The chance of having a big cruise ship grace PNG shores once again, will be very good news for the Kokopo based tour operator, but for now, they continue to cater to the needs of the domestic market.
“I have had a lot of people in the country, messaging to ask me about future tour packages. I have studied the travel behavior of local tourists and I can say, we are not into the habit of pre-booking tour packages. So at the moment, I only market my products for specific public holidays or the festive period,” Dominic said.
Along with tailoring their products to suit the behavior and trends in the domestic market, PNG Tour Guides, also uses its social media platform for wider reach, by boosting its posts.
“It cost me about K20 to boost a post on Facebook. And from every boosted post, I usually pick up 2 or 3 confirmed bookings for my tour packages, which fully covers my cost for boosting my post. This kind of marketing on Facebook is very easy and quite effective for me as a smaller tour operator in the country.”
The body responsible for promoting tourism in the country, usually targets an international market, with little to no returns. The Owner of PNG Tour Guides believes more domestic tourism product development on the ground needs to be done.
“There are already strategic plans in place that focus on the domestic market. We sought funding to develop our own house, into a home stay. This is going to complement our tour guide services that are already in place. When you choose a local tour guide and you stay at such a homestay, you get a taste of the locality and have a personalized tour experience, which forms lasting relationships,” Dominic concludes.