After 10 years of closure, Bougainville’s iconic World War II relic has reopened to tourists.
The crash site of the Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’, which carried the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, is located at Kokopo village of Makis Constituency in Buin District.
Admiral Yamamoto was one of the Japanese masterminds of Pearl Harbor attack and was gunned down with his war plane on 18 April, 1943 by US forces, causing his plane to crash south Bougainville.
According to the landowners Chairman Mr Raphael Bakiri, before the crisis the Yamamoto crash site was one of the hottest tourism spots in Buin District.
He stated that the place took in many tourists every day and the villagers now want to revive that.
“The place was very restricted because it is on the border of two clans,” Mr Bakiri said.
“This caused a conflict, but after the recent reconciliation they are very happy to make revenue out of it in an equal basis.”
According to Mr Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours (BET), the first Japanese tours will visit the Yamamoto site in the month of April. These are Nichibu Research Group who is already booked with BET to do a four day tour and Yamamoto site is their priority site to visit.
BET also stated that more interested requests for the site are coming in. One confirmed for June and July is Japanese Homestay documentary filming group.
Steven Tamiung stated that according to the villagers, Bougainville Experience Tours is the first and the only tourism consultants that the landowners are engaging to bring tourists to the site.
“The landowners are very happy to engage us to help bring in tourist to visit the site,” Mr Tamiung said.
“They have agreed to the price of K150 per head for international tourists to visit the site.”
For more info check out Bougainville Experience Website