Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tourism, PNG style.

How tourism should work… A tourist goes to a spot, may it be scenic or otherwise, they pay their entry fee, this fee goes to the upkeep of said spot. The tourist thinks that the spot is amazing and decides to take a few photographs and on their return home, they show said photos of said spot to their family and friends. Family and friends are inspired and plan their next holiday, perhaps including a visit to the spot.

Everyone is happy, Spot worker has a job, Spot is maintained and more and more people decide to visit, increasing employment in local community and just generally making everyone happy.

How tourism has worked for me in PNG… sometimes on the weekend, I am a tourist in my new found backyard. I would like something to do, so I ask around, and I discover that there is a good spot for a Sunday visit. I arrange to get there, I have a good time, I pay my entry fee and I pay some bloke who shows me around, and he takes me to the better parts of the spot. I’m impressed, I take a few photos and I show them to my friends, who ask me to take them to the spot.

We all arrange to get there, we all pay our entry fee, we all have a good time, and we all convince our friends that it is well worth the effort to get there. And they do.

Then one day we all show up, and as we are leaving, the guy who we pay entry fee to stops us and says that he hears that we have been taking photos of the scenery some two months prior. We say “Of Course! It’s a beautiful spot and we want our friends to be inspired and visit!” And he says, sorry but my boss says you must pay K250.00 because you used a camera. Unbelievable! This extortion is shooting tourism in its own foot.

Over the last two years I have probably introduced this spot to around 50 people, who have all paid their entry fee, and quite possibly have visited on more than one occasion, and quite possibly have used the services of the local crew to help find the better parts of the spot and have all had a good time. Perhaps over K1000.00 has entered the spot’s coffers through my direct and indirect involvement, yet someone wants more, someone is greedy and someone is stupid.

For shame Tourism PNG, this is a bitter day.