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.”