The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is hoping tourism will help it get back on its feet after a decade of civil war.
Tourism authorities on the island are launching an initiative aimed at selling the island to the world.
Bougainville also has a website featuring the many tourist experiences the island has to offer.
Lawrence Belleh is chief executive officer of Bougainville Tourism and organises many Festivals like the MONA and Siwai Festivals (see image Below)
He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that the country has many attractions that will be a draw for tourists.
“We have the still rawness in the natural environment and everything people would want to see especially with the ecotourism that is around here in Bougainville,” he said.
“The people here are very, very friendly.
Mr Belleh says the island’s natural environment is still in tact after the 10-year conflict and is suitable for tourist activities.
“So many things like lakes, the mountains, the volcanos… you see crystal clear water everywhere, it’s good for diving, snorkelling, swimming, fishing,” he said.
Example of Ecotourism Manee Via Arawa
Rotokas Eco tourism operators Follow on FACEBOOK
There remains much wariness among the locals over reopening the copper and gold mine because of what they experienced at the height of the civil war.
The mine, which was one of the world’s largest, was closed in 1989 after it caused the civil war on the island.
“One of the things we are trying to avoid is to reopen the mine and that’s the sentiment that we have here especially the people of Panguna where what they would like to do is to do tourism,” Mr Belleh said.
“Rebuilding their lives, they want to build it through ecotourism, that’s what people have openly said.”
A recently released film Mr Pip – which is set during Bougainville’s civil war period – has also generated global interest in the island.
The movie is based on a novel by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones.
“Some of the actors and scenes you see in the film is actually the experiences people had experienced during the height of the crisis,” Mr Belleh said.
The government is already seeing an increase in tourists and making room for them.
“There are so many things that are happening and because of the film, there are so many people now that are coming to see where the film actually took place,” Mr Belleh said.
“With the people as well, there are facilities that people are now building like guest houses.”
A good example the Arawa Visitors centre
And the recently upgrade Kuri Village Resort in Buka
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