By: PNG Business News May 18, 2023

Photo: Minister Leonard discussing importance of Sports Tourism during a meeting with Australian Rugby League senior executives​​​​

Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Isi Henry Leonard is impressed about the initiatives taken by PNG Tourism and Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) to help promote Papua New Guinea as a tourist destination.

PNGTPA in a nutshell is pushing for sports tourism as one of its vehicles under the MICE segment of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. We have well developed sporting facilities and infrastructure such as Stadiums, Amenities, International Airport, Hotels, Restaurants etc., which are important facilities any destination would have. We are building back better and Sports Tourism is one important segment for PNGTPA to develop and promote.

Minister Leonard, accompanied by his first secretary Elijah Tapie were able to witness and be part of the various meetings held by PNGTPA and several high-profile rugby league executives including Norm Black, the Founding Managing Director of Trip-A-Deal and Australian National Rugby League CFO Shaun McMartin and NRL Vaughan Vitale (Government Partnership).

Minister Leonard after attending several meetings was impressed in the way Sports Tourism can take a new direction amidst PNGTPAs new Marketing Strategy. “I took the office during the COVID-19 period and it was a short but very challenging period at that time. When I returned, the Marape-Rosso Government had that confidence in me to continue on my role as the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture. We want to be innovative to see the growth of Tourism in PNG. Just by sitting through all these various meetings, I am encouraged and to be honest, I am happy to see how TPA is conducting its meetings. Such networking will enable and develop important partnerships with stakeholders abroad, especially in Australia where Australia is a major source market for PNG Tourism,” Minister Leonard said.

The sports tourism activities included meetings with various relevant partners in bringing an NRL premiership round to PNG in 2024 or 2025 and also making the official announcement of PNG’s rugby league icon and Melbourne Storms center Justin Olam as TPA’s brand ambassador.

“I believe Sports Tourism is a way forward and by looking at it, it is a great concept. My Ministry under the Marape-Rosso government will support this and ensure we fulfil the planned activities in order to unite both Australia and PNG through sports tourism,” The tourism minister said.

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