Domestic Tourism Should Be Pushed Today, Says Leonard
by PNG Business News - September 24, 2021
Photo credit: Travel Triangle
Domestic tourism should be pushed today, argued Tourist, Arts and Culture Minister Isi Henry Leonard, since the tourism industry is being impacted by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic.
“The Covid-19 has awakened us to realise our full potential,” he said.
“The answer is in culture and domestic tourism. We have to realign and re-strategise to get tourism up and going.
“You don’t need to look outside for answers.
“You need to look inside to address this global situation.
“Culture is the product to boost the tourism industry that is largely affected by the pandemic.
“Anywhere there is a cultural event, we support it. I promote the culture of this country.”
Chief executive officer of the Tourism Promotion Authority, Eric Mossman Uvovo, said measures were in the works to promote domestic tourism.
Locals and expats alike were interested in domestic airports and flights, he added. Packages with airlines have been promoted.
Reference: The National (22 September 2021). ‘Encourage local tourism’
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.”
PNG Business News - February 17, 2021
COVID Has Affected the Tourism Industry
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 - March 01, 2021
Tourism and Tourism-Related Businesses One of the Hardest Hit by COVID
With international borders shut down to contain the virus, PNG experienced a downfall in international travellers from January to June last year - 32,805 as compared with 75,556 of the same period n 2019, a drop of 57 per cent. In addition, tourism-related businesses and enterprises suffered major losses, and there is a dearth of tourists visiting shopping malls and recreational parks In an assessment survey conducted last September and October, tourism stakeholders and tourism product owners revealed interesting responses.According to the chief executive officer of the Port Moresby Nature Park, park visits fell from 70,346 visitors between March and August 2019 to 42,435 over the same period in 2020, a drop of 40 per cent. There were also a lot of cancellations of programs and projects for the parks. Also suffered was the souvenir shop of the park as there were no tourists anymore. However, some good samaritans also helped the park such as the Sir Brian Bell Foundation and the British High Commission paying entrance fees for their students and teachers. In addition, the earnings of local artisans were disrupted too.The hotel industry was another one of those hardest hit. Facing closure were the Ela Beach Hotel and the Holiday Inn Express because there were no tourists or visitors. Rates for room occupancy also dropped. But operations started picking up last quarter of 2020, especially with the food and beverages at the hotel. Lodges also faced some massive challenges. Aside from the airlines, travel agents such as PNG Explorers International, Mix Travel Limited also faced some losses and huge cancellations. Others such as dry cleaning, rental cars, barbershops, and florists all lacked customers.Local arts and crafts vendors also struggled.While it is believed that international travels boost the economy, domestic tourism can also contribute a lot. It is, therefore, everyone’s business to keep tourism alive in PNG.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Australia buys Digicel, PNG’s mobile monopoly
Photo credit: Devpolicy by Stephen Howes Yesterday, Telstra announced that it was buying Digicel Pacific. Telstra itself is only paying $270 million, and the Australian government $1.33 billion. Yet, Telstra is obtaining 100% ownership. The deal is certainly an attractive one for Telstra. But does it make sense for Australia, and for the Pacific? Digicel has had a transformational impact in the Pacific, but now has too much market power. As the Telstra release explains, it holds the dominant position in all the Pacific countries in which it operates, except for Fiji, where it is in second place. In Papua New Guinea, which I know best, and which is by far Digicel's biggest market, the company has a 92% share of the mobile phone market. That makes Digicel effectively a monopoly in PNG. And that is why it is so profitable: like any monopolist, it exploits its market power. Australian and PNG researchers have been tracking mobile internet prices in PNG since Australia gifted it a new underwater cable . Their conclusion is that since the completion of that cable in December 2019 to today there has been no decrease in mobile internet prices. The reason is simple: the lack of retail competition. Michelle Nayahamui Rooney, Martin Davies and I last year exposed Digicel PNG’s predatory loan scheme. Digicel lends phone credit to its customers. They pay it back when they next top up. Our estimate is that Digicel made a 17% return from such loans every week, which is equivalent to an unbelievable 351200% a year. Is this really the way in which Australia want to engages in the Pacific – owning an enterprise that keeps prices high for consumers, and rips them off when they are desperate to make a call? Any monopolist is necessarily engaged in a battle between the consumer and their profits. At some point, Telstra will end up going toe-to-toe with the PNG telecom regulator, NICTA, as Digicel has done several times. It’s going to be awkward for both Telstra and the Australian government. Many will welcome the investment as a sign of Australian commitment to the Pacific. However, if we want to invest in the telecom sector in the Pacific, we should be backing alternatives to Digicel, to push prices down and improve services, not buying out the dominant player. Amalgamated Telecom Holdings based in Fiji is the Pacific’s second biggest telecom provider. It is currently planning to enter the PNG mobile market with support from the Asian Development Bank. This is the sort of investment we should be financing. That Australia has bought Digicel shows the extent to which the Pacific is now viewed through a China lens. That’s unfortunate. China is a massive economic power. Its companies will have increasing stakes in economies around the world. That is a fact we have to accept. The Australian government also needs to decide if its only goal is to counter China or if it is still seeks to promote Pacific development. When I was AusAID's Chief Economist, Digicel was the new kid on the block in the Pacific, and it was successfully challenging state-owned telcos that until then had been dominant. In 2006, in Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's flagship Pacific 2020 report, we wrote glowingly about the competition that various Pacific countries had recently started allowing in the mobile phone sector. Our analysis was right then, and remains relevant today. Yet here we are, in 2021, doing the opposite: rather than supporting greater competition in the telecom sector, subsidising the purchase of the incumbent monopolist. The decision to buy Digicel Pacific should be reversed. If it is too late for that, the Australian government should at least – in return for all its cheap and risk-reducing finance – oblige Telstra to operate Digicel for the benefit of the people of the Pacific rather than solely for its shareholders through an agreement that makes it clear that the Australian company is not only expected to return the cheap loan it has been given, but also reduce prices, and end rip-offs. This article appeared first on Devpolicy Blog (devpolicy.org), from the Development Policy Centre at The Australian National University. Stephen Howes is the Director of the Development Policy Centre and a Professor of Economics at the Crawford School.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Taureka Replaced As Managing Director
Isikeli Taureka's position as managing-director (MD) of Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) was terminated by the National Executive Council (NEC) recently. Professor David Kavanamur has been appointed as interim MD until a permanent appointment is made, and Moses Maladina, the current chairman of PNG Power Ltd, has been named as acting chairman. Taureka was removed after 20 months, according to Prime Minister James Marape, due to poor performance by KCH and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and missed national project deadlines. “The reforms of the SOEs were endorsed by the Government in October 2019,” he said “We see it as the most-significant reform programme to be undertaken by any Government since the corporatisation of the state utilities and the creation of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), now KCH. “Building governance and accountability must go hand in hand with successful project execution. These are viable projects that can fundamentally change the accessibility and affordability of services and benefit the welfare of our people. “Extensive unexplained delays to major projects by KCH and SOEs are not acceptable. The Government understands that SOE issues cannot be immediately resolved as they take time. “That is why the NEC provided well over a year for KCH to work with SOEs to support the development and execution of strategies. We had hoped more would have been achieved during Taureka’s tenure. We regret to take the difficult step of severing the MD’s appointment. However, the NEC felt it had to be done. “The Telikom merger and partial privatisation with majority ownership and board control to be passed onto the super funds, for example, is one major issue the Government has been pushing since 2019 when we took office. “The merger of Water PNG and Eda Ranu is another matter that has been outstanding and not yet resolved. This merger is to take on a subsidiary structure where 20 percent of Eda Ranu is to be owned by Koiari landowners and 10 per cent each by Central Province and the National Capital District. “This decision was taken in 2019 but has not been implemented to date. “As for PNG Power and its continuous performance issues, these have been ongoing and evident. “These are badly-needed reforms within the SOEs and responsive policies have been launched by the Government, yet, very little or no progress have been made. “Out of respect to Taureka as a leading Papua New Guinea son, I had reached out to him for a meeting but there was no response forthcoming. Hence, the announcement of this decision (termination),” he added. Those nominated to crucial positions, according to Marape, must grasp the larger picture and act quickly to fulfill the government's goals.“For others in key leadership roles, whether as chair, members of boards, departments or agency heads, you are not here to pass the time or warm seats. Everyone must step up. “The Prime Minister’s Department is working to take stock of work done. So, if you feel you have not met your key performance indicators, I suggest you start thinking about resigning before the NEC asks you to leave.” According to Marape, Kavanamur had previously served as the chairman of KCH and had a thorough awareness of the organization's issues as well as the government's goals. Reference: The National (22 October 2021). “Cabinet Axes Taureka”.
PNG Business News - October 26, 2021
Digicel Pacific to be Acquired by Telstra
Telstra has announced that it will buy Digicel Pacific for $US1.6 billion, plus up to an additional US$250 million based on business performance over the next three years, subject to government and regulatory approvals. In its six South Pacific markets – Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu – Telstra, Australia's leading telecommunications and technology company, will continue to invest in and operate the business under the Digicel brand name. Telstra International CEO Oliver Camplin-Warner said the agreement will allow Telstra to expand on Digicel Pacific's regional leadership and increase mobile connectivity in Papua New Guinea. “Denis O’Brien and the Digicel team have built a phenomenal business that’s centred on providing exceptional customer service, the best coverage and leading digital experiences. Telstra will add to these strengths and the team’s local knowledge with our more than one hundred years’ experience connecting the vast expanses of Australia to continue delivering great experiences for Digicel’s customers across the Pacific.” “We have 19.5 million retail mobile customers in Australia and our 4G network is the largest and most reliable in country. It covers some of the remotest parts of Australia – from the coast, to the outback and the Torres Strait Islands, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea. And we’re in the process of building Australia’s largest 5G network that now stretches to more than 240 towns and 75 per cent of the population,” Camplin-Warner said. There will be no employment losses in the region as a result of the transaction, and the present Digicel Pacific team will continue to manage the company on a day-to-day basis. Denis O'Brien, the current owner of Digicel, will continue on the Board of Directors. “We will invest our know-how and capital to further expand coverage and over time bring the benefits of 5G to Papua New Guinea. But we’ll retain the same Digicel brand the people of PNG know and love today with the same team and services they have come to rely on,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The purchase, according to Camplin-Warner, is in line with Telstra International's expansion plan, which now comprises operations in 20 countries outside of Australia and thousands of clients, including businesses, governments, and some of the world's largest technology firms. “Beyond Australia Telstra also has the most extensive subsea telecommunications cable network in the Asia Pacific. And we’re one of the biggest providers of voice and data services connecting the South Pacific to the rest of the world through our Southern Cross cable.” “Network traffic is growing faster than at any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. We are at the centre of this, and so is Digicel Pacific. We are committed to delivering the best technology on the best network for PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. The people and businesses of PNG will benefit from Telstra's experience rolling out a world-class 5G network and connecting diverse geographies, according to Colin Stone, CEO of Digicel Papua New Guinea. “Telstra’s network innovation has played a critical part in Australia being ranked first in the global Mobile Connectivity Index which assesses networks based on performance, affordability and availability. We look forward to working with Oliver and the Telstra team,” Mr Stone said. The two firms' ideals, according to Camplin-Warner, were likewise matched. “Digicel Pacific and Telstra are both committed to building a connected future so everyone can thrive and this includes supporting some of the most vulnerable in our communities.” “Digicel Pacific has taken community development to the next level through the Digicel Foundation’s investment in health, education and community-based programs. We look forward to continuing this work, just as we do today with the Telstra Foundation and its commitment to using technology to support young people and help to reduce the digital divide.” “We will also bring a commitment to addressing climate change to help drive better environmental outcomes for the people of PNG,” Mr Camplin-Warner said. Despite the fact that the transaction is funded by the Australian government, Telstra will remain the only owner and operator of the company. Reference: Loop (October 25, 2021). “Australia’s biggest telecommunications company to acquire Digicel Pacific”.