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COVID Has Affected the Tourism Industry
by PNG Business News - February 17, 2021
The pandemic has indeed affected the tourism industry in the country.
This was according to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Isi Henry Leonard who said that the travel restrictions has brought less international tourists to enter the country and has caused fewer tourism activities.
However, he said that it is important to promote local tourism and activities in the country.
“Our local tourism sector is also affected but not to that extent,” he said. “So we should now put more emphasis on local tourism by ensuring support in terms of travel and mobility within the country.”
He added that a national plan was already in the works to align tourism in the country after the ill effects of the pandemic.
“I think the plan should provide the way forward for tourism to rise above the Covid-19 challenges in the tourism sector,” he said. “We need to protect the tourism sector by devising possible solutions and strategies to ensure the sector continues to be promoted and maintained. So for me, I think we should emphasis more on local tourism by bringing programs and activities back to where the people are.”
Once the plan is finalised, he said that they will seek the support of the National Executive Council.
PNG Business News - January 09, 2021
Official: High Costs of Airfares are a Challenge to Tourism
The high costs of airfares have been a challenge to domestic travel and tourism. According to the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) Chief executive officer Eric Mossman, that in spite of the ill effects that the pandemic has brought to the country, this has allowed them to reassess and see where the industry was and how to maximise that potential in the country. “One of the most important things that we have realised is that the cost of travel is one of the biggest impediments to growing tourism generally,” he said. “So we will be writing to donor agencies to support us to conduct a study into the composition and structure of the airfares and look at ways that we can improve. Perhaps opening up the airspace, signing up agreements, bringing in competitors into the market, especially in the domestic sector, so that when we have competitive airlines competing within the domestic sector so the prices of (aeroplane) tickets can decrease. But these are some of the bigger challenges that we faced. All in all, we are positioning ourselves to move forward having learnt from the impact of the Covid-19.”In addition, former tourism, arts and culture minister Walter Schnaubelt challenged the new Minister Isi Henry Leonard to see how the costs of airfare can be reduced. This may also involve dialogue with the National Airports Corporation and Air Niugini. Meanwhile, given the high rates of airlines, Leonard encouraged the public to also try using the maritime mode of transport. “We should look within and promote local tourism,” he said.He further noted that programmes or cultural festivals needed to be spread out for government funding. “Spread out the programmes whether it be sporting or cultural activities, snorkelling, diving or sight-seeing – have them programmed in the annual calendar and have the Government to fund those,” he said. “Promote those areas that have the potential in tourism and use provisions within the laws and promote tourism hubs within those areas. One of the laws we recently passed is the Special Economic Zone Act 2019 where we can explore to create hubs and invite the industry players to come to invest in them.”
PNG Business News - October 09, 2020
Good News for the Tourism Industry
The tourism industry of PNG is looking up. According to Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey, the government has pointed out stimulus funds to help the tourism industry. He didn’t say the amount but added that the budget for tourism was overlooked. In a statement during the handover ceremony of the tourism ministry to incoming Walter Schnaubelt from outgoing Emil Tammur, he said, “Tourism is a serious economic portfolio, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be always represented when putting together a budget.”Ling-Stuckey added that the tourism industry had really been hit hard and that they need all the support to get back up. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Tourism Kennedy Wenge said tourism was about taking care of the ownership of all resources. He added that aside from tourism, the government also zeroes in on agriculture. “Agriculture is based on export and import while tourism is a ‘hand purse’ industry meaning tourists bring money in and it remains in the country,” he said.
PNG Business News - March 01, 2021
Reforms Needed in the Tourism Industry: Minister
Crucial reforms have to be made so that the tourism industry can move forward.According to Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Isi Leonard, they need to ensure that the environment for the tourism industry is significant to these changing times. He added that the enforcement of standards will add value to competitive advantage as a destination to ensure that the process of tourism goes smoothly. “Papua New Guinea’s tourism industry is a sleeping giant and has a huge potential to generate considerable wealth for our country,” he said. “The tourism industry will play a vital role in growing Papua New Guinea’s economy by harnessing the huge untapped tourism potential and open doors to the outside world into our shores to a million different journeys."He is confident that the national tourism plan will give the guidelines and frameworks for the tourism industry to get back on track. “We have to take back our tourism industry at the local level to the national level,” he said. “Every citizen in the Informal Sector, MMSEs, SMEs and big corporate organizations in all sectors of the economy can effectively participate and contribute to the overall growth and productivity of the Tourism Industry in Papua New Guinea.”
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PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Price of Oil Recovers in Spite of COVID
According to Oil Search, oil prices have risen steadily in recent months from the initial effect of the Covid-19 last year, when prices ranged about US$43 (K150) per barrel of oil (bbl), to levels above US$60/bbl (K210) since February this year. In response to questions, a group spokesperson said,“ To date, there has been no impact to production in our Oil Search operations in PNG as a result of the recent surge in the Covid-19 cases. The increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in PNG has prompted Oil Search to enact its crisis and emergency management plans. The health and safety of our employees remain the company’s highest priority and teams have been assembled in PNG and Sydney to deploy additional support to protect our people and to ensure the safety and reliability of our operations. At our PNG field locations, we continue to operate under precautionary protocols established in 2020, which includes redeployment of non-essential personnel, restriction of access and travel to field locations and implementation of strict preventative measures and quarantine zones.” He added, “We have enacted additional risk mitigation measures include establishing ‘cocoons’ for our field teams and extending the quarantine period for employees and contractors. To date, there has not been a single positive case recorded in our operating sites outside of quarantine. We have also conducted more than 7,500 Covid-19 tests at our medical clinics and quarantine facilities in PNG. Beyond the safety of our own people and assets, Oil Search stands ready to work with relevant Government and health authorities to assist in PNG’s overall response to the Covid-19. This includes the dissemination of accurate information around the Covid-19 and vaccinations, supporting provincial health authorities to implement an effective vaccination programme, and providing logistics and cold chain support where required and as directed by the Government.”
PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Lae Chamber Welcomes Green Energy
The Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said it welcomes any power plan that is long-term, environmentally friendly and creates jobs in the delivery of efficient, low-cost electricity in Lae and Morobe. President John Byrne referred to concerns regarding the PNG Biomass project in the province's Markham Valley when he said, “PNG Biomass has provided a solution which ticks most of these boxes, whether it fits the plan of PPL (PNG Power Ltd) is a decision beyond our scope. The recent Ramu 2 announcement is another such solution. Our people of Lae, Morobe, and PNG, not only expect but deserve, reliable, constant and cost-effective power solutions.” According to Byrne, the Lae business group praised the Lae PPL team for their commitment, hard work, and communication in maintaining an ageing and insecure grid infrastructure operational. He said many companies that had short or long-term contracts with the government were failing because of the long-standing outstanding Government bills owing to them. “The quantum of debt is not specified but very large and this added to the impact of the Covid-19, resource debates and a lack of forex is taking a toll on the business houses.,” he said.
PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Businesses Concerned Regarding Government Debts
With the outstanding amount of government debt owed to the sector, pending landowner fees, and rising law and order woes, businesses are concerned about 2022. According to Chey Scovell, chief executive officer of the PNG Manufacturers Board, conversations within the business community revealed that the government owed companies more than K2 billion. “I don’t have an updated list, but from general conversations with business and what is being raised with the various chambers, it would exceed K2 billion,” he said. “We hear that contractors for the Department of Works have claims for this amount alone, so the number could be as high as K3 billion. No doubt they may have paid some, technically a K1 payment would be paying at least some. The Budget hasn’t been able to be implemented properly at all. Recurrent expenditure, monthly bills for things like water, power, security, rent, are not being paid in full or in many cases at all. We’ve suggested that the Government put up an online portal/list, for all creditors to register for the Government to show full or progressive payments.” Scovell compared what the government was doing to the private community to what would happen if everybody started paying taxes for one to five years but continued to use government programs. “They wouldn’t be able to survive, so how is it that they expect businesses to carry on?” he said. “It is also a bit of a cop-out that Treasury is taking a long time and in many instances taking extensive reviews of claims to see if they will pay them and by how much.” Scovell argued that the government was required to behave in good faith and to set a precedent, but that forcing or intimidating companies to make substantial reductions in compensation due for goods and services rendered was bad form. “We note there are many dodgy claims, but there seems to be little evidence that hires car firms, public works contractors and catering firms (reported as problematic areas) are having the same scrutiny,” he said. “BOC Gas waited years to be paid for medical gases such as oxygen supplied to PMGH (Port Moresby General Hospital), it was reviewed twice that I know of and not paid. The other item of note is that debt carried is a growing debt. The older it gets the more it has cost the businesses.” He added, “Also, our currency has been depreciating, many businesses based their fees on the foreign exchange rates at that time, some even had loans Just like our tax penalties, the longer they are overdue, the higher they should become. This Government isn’t doing to others as it does for itself. We still have micro, small and medium enterprises that have suffered duress due to non-payment of bills going all the way back to our 40th Independence, same goes for the 2015 Pacific Games, we hear from the regional chambers that there are many outstanding claims for the past two elections. Again, if we had a publicly available list, the Government wouldn’t be able to hide behind confusion and people could whistleblow on dubious claims.”