Bougainville Tourism News : Kangu / Buin in remote South #Bougainville has a rich history and bright future

 ” ALTHOUGH it is one of the less-visited places in our region, Kangu Hill, Kangu Beach and this generally remote bottom end of Bougainville have their share of fame (and infamy). 

Kangu’s fame predates Panguna’s; its immortality came by way of the relics, tunnels, dungeons and remains Asians and Caucasians left behind after WW2 – and by way of Melanesians whose wounds and scars from the Bougainville crisis and conflict are more recent and fresh.”

 Simon Pentanu

 

At one time, Kangu attracted international attention as a sphere of wartime activity. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of Japan’s combined fleet, was shot down over Buin on April 18, 1943. 

Admiral Yamamoto, a few hours before his death, saluting Japanese naval pilots at Rabaul, April 18, 1943

 

About 25km north of Buin along the south of Bougainville lies the wreck of the Japanese Betty bomber which was intercepted and shot down by Allied Forces on 18th April 1943.

On board that plane was WWII’s most famous Japanese commander and mastermind of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.

He was on an inspection tour of forward positions in the Solomon Islands when his aircraft (a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber) was shot down during an ambush by American P-38 Lightning fighter planes.

His death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II.

The site is covered in thick jungle and there are still some landowner issues, but if you arranged yourself early and got in touch with Bougainville Experience Tours , they can get you there.

 

 

Bougainville WW2 history :

Admiral Yamamoto site at Buin to features on Australian TV Watch Video

After the war this area became the district HQ for south Bougainville during the colonial administration. Kangu had its own police station on the hill, a hospital and power station by the beach, some colonial government housing and its share of Chinese traders and merchants.

Before Kangu got its jetty in 2003, cargo ships used to anchor off shore. Back then a trickling of crocodile hunters used to come through the area, after the reptiles for their skins. Scavengers of WW2 relics turned up from time to time, but they found they couldn’t possibly take much of evidence of the war away with them. This was out of the way for them, original land owners still had customary rights over land and their visits waned over time. And, in any case, who could remove the concrete bunkers from ‘Little Tokyo’ or the huge guns along the beaches that were left pointing to the south Solomons? Or the sunken vessels out here at sea.

Some of the places of most historical interest are relics of the church and the state.

Patupatuai near Kangu was one of the oldest mission sites and came complete with a Catholic cathedral. Bougainville’s oldest technical school was here, next to the Buin primary school at Kangu beach. I still have very fond memories going to the primary school with many boys from other parts of the Island as far away as Haku, Halia, Petats and Solos. 

Further down the beach from Patupatuai Catholic mission, the Methodists ran the lively Kihili Girls Vocational Centre. It enrolled girls from both sides of the Solomons.

 

It’s quite amazing how much the colonial administration and the churches did in the early days with very little money, but with a lot of thought, faith, effort and initiative.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if the four Bougainville national MPs put even a fraction of that thought and effort into planning together how best to spend the DSIP and other funds in their stewardship. Just imagine what could be achieved for the people of Bougainville if that K30 – K40 million or so a year – over some six hundred million kina a term – was carefully and strategically put to good use for the people of Bougainville!

In the mid-60s, as the new Buin town became the district centre and site for merchants and businesses, Kangu was slowly deserted.  The rituals that were part of the Kangu outpost – and were probably common in colonial administration centres throughout most of the territory at the time – started to fade. At a certain time of the day, may be at the raising and lowering of the colonial flag in the morning and in the afternoon, the sound of the bugle playing ‘The Last Post’ would ring out among the trees and the buildings.

All these years later the sound still rings vivid in my ears.

Of course, Kangu Hill and Kangu Beach have a rich history that predates WW2. Now, as Buin township expands, this rich history is tickling the imaginations of the locals, historians, developers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

Plans for the facelift of Buin town include sealing the road all the way down to Kangu.

The plan holds a lot of potential for locals and tourists alike. When the new Buin market buildings are complete and the bitumen goes all the way to Kangu beach, this will no longer be a road less travelled.

I can imagine Saturdays where people from as far as Wakunai, Arawa and Kieta will converge on the area, mixing with the locals and with the increasing numbers of fishermen from the Shortland Islands, giving the market an international flavour.

 

To sell her produce Regina Puia travels 45 minutes by boat every Saturday from the Solomon Islands to Kangu and then onto Buin Market or further north to Evo, her matrilineal home.

The mother of four, who comes from mixed Evo (Central Bougainville) and Shortland (Solomon Islands) parentage, lives in Nila Catholic Mission on the east coast of Shortland Island where her husband is a fisherman.

“It takes us less than an hour Story Leonard Fong Roka

 

The policeman playing the bugle at the rising and going down of the sun, ringing and reverberating in my head, would now be drowned out by the boom and thump of rock and reggae coming out of the Bluetooth speakers that are quite affordable and plentiful amongst young revellers all around the Island.

Of course, the pain and the wounds that gave Kangu its immortality remain. 

Those bitter memories, along with the warm nostalgia for a past that will never return, are all part of what makes this place what it is today. And they will continue to be part of what it will be tomorrow and into the future, even as many people in this part of Bougainville crave to ‘catch up with the rest of the world’, whatever that may mean.

 

Bougainville Tourism News : Our 2017 challenges will be opening up tourism opportunities resulting in quality tour products

 

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  ” Tourism is not an easy industry to grow  and develop as many people and countries might think or expect. In fact it can be a daunting and, at times, difficult industry to be involved in if you don’t have the right advice, proper support, a good kappreciation and sensitivities of others’ cultures, government support, and of course capacity and resources, to start with.

Bougainville can learn a lot and benefit from the advances PNG and neighbouring pacific states have made in tourism. The biggest income earners for our Melanesian neighbours Fiji and Vanuatu, for example, is mass tourism. “

Simon Pentanu see Pokpok Island webpage for info

Picture above and below : Travellers and crew from the cruise ship True North on Pokpok Island 19 December 2016 experiencing a cultural performances

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Governments that have realized and seen the potential to add substantial tourist dollars to their GNP have developed elaborate policies and support to public and private corporations to promote the industry in a big way.

In this venture and adventure local communities who are the custodians of their environment, interesting natural attractions, historical sites and indigenous arts and cultures must see some benefit in the development of tourism by the government and the private sector through tour agents and operators.

Developing what Bougainville offers, step by step and not en masse is the most sensible approach with VAs. Tour companies and local operators and agents can pick and choose with local communities what is on offer regionally and locally around the Island.

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All that begins well ends well means a lot. For Bougainville every little successes in this industry is important. The adage which goes something like, “to succeed we must know what we are doing and we cannot be too satisfied until it’s done and dusted”, is true, isn’t it? 

The advice we often hear how best to rebuild Bougainville is to  build from the ground up is equally true, isn’t it. For starters and from experience it is a good advice to start and keep things simple, affordable and manageable from the start. This involves listening to industry experts, not being afraid to ask questions and have early meaningful discussions and consultations with the buyers of the product we are trying to promote and sell.  

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New Bungalows at Uruna Bay Retreat on PokPok Island

A successful tour or promotion is a win-win outcome for the travelers and the communities visited, including service providers. The win-win formulae requires proper consultations between all parties involved in the arrangements in advance.

This gives everybody a breathing space as no one is choked or shocked not knowing what is happening, who is coming and going, how the community is involved, how the benefits are shared and there are no surprises and disappointments.

Bougainville is a good product to promote. Areas all over Bougainville in the North, South and central will surpass expectations of any traveler if these are promoted sensibly and not just for the sake of quick profits. 

Slowly but surely we can all contribute  towards a sensible policy discussion and a well construct for tourism for Bougainville.

We have a good product on Pokpok Island. for example. Water sports such as Kayaking , surfing and Skin diving have huge growth potential

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More than that, on this first occasion we thank Bougainville Experience Tours for gracing us with three cultural groups from the mainland, prearranged and prepaid to perform for the travelers and crew on the cruise ship True North.

If anything else it does a lot and speaks volumes in familiarizing and promoting unity and union between and amongst different cultural groups from different areas in Kieta district. 

When we look back  this is a win-win formulae as it spreads the benefits directly into communities. The early meaningful tripartite consultations which started more than five months ago between North Star Cruises Australia, Bougainville Experience Tours and Chief Peter Garuai of Pokpok and Uruna Retreat venue owners on Pokpok meant that every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed as much as it was practically possible to do so.

There will always be issues and hiccups to sort out when a number of parties and groups are involved in trying to achieve something together. We must be prepared to put a positive spin to any differences and challenges faced.

When dealt with and addressed sensibly challenges more often than not opens up opportunities to try harder to do things better for even better results.

The True North is expected to make another visit in December 2017.

 

 

 

Bougainville International #Tourism News : The cruise ship True North impressed with Bougainville tourism potential

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” The Cruise ship True North has made its first tourism landfall on Bougainville for its passengers and crew. If all goes well and ends well like it did this week on its first cruise to AROB the ship will become a regular visitor to Bougainville and PokPok “

Picture Above the cruise ship True North

More info about Uruna Bay Retreat on Pokpok

With a population of tourists and crew of over thirty, everyone was treated to a cultural extravaganza provided by four cultural groups.

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It was a real cultural smorgasbord treat from entree to desserts. The liqueur was back on the boat at the end of three hours of entertainment.

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 Pokpok cultural dancers with its Shaman

True North and Bougainville Experience Tours chose to visit Pokpok Island on this the first travel to Bougainville. The deal was sealed when Uruna Bay Retreat on Pokpok agreed to provide the venue for the performances in its secluded beachfront property for the day. It was a real success, a win win for everyone that was involved in the visit and the cultural groups and other local service providers.

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Tourists under a natural fig tree “amphitheatre

It is hoped that True North will include Bougainville in its annual calendar of cruises to this region of the Pacific. There is tremendous potential for other smaller cruises. 

It is being quickly realized by travelers  that the Kieta coastal area and Islands is a jewel in Bougainville’s tourism crown for cruise ships offering breathtaking views, scenery, white beaches, diving, snorkeling, a growing surfing interest and one of the most beautiful natural harbours anywhere.

 

 

 

Bougainville Tourism News : Communities See Tourism Gold in Derelict Bougainville Mine

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Panguna is one of the historical sites in Bougainville. People go up to Panguna to see for themselves the damage done and want to know more about why the Bougainville Crisis erupted,”

Zhon Bosco Miriona, managing director of Bougainville Experience Tours, a local tourism company based in the nearby town of Arawa, which caters to about 50-100 international tourists per year, agrees.

Our future is very, very dangerous if we reopen the Panguna mine. Because thousands of people died, we are not going to reopen the mine. We must find a new way to build the economy,

We envisage tourists visiting the enigmatic valley in the heart of the Crown Prince Ranges to stay in eco-lodges and learn of its extraordinary history

Philip Takaung, vice president of the Panguna-based Mekamui Tribal Government

Originally published here

Picture Landowner Lynette Ona, along with local leaders and villagers in the Panguna mine area, look to tourism as a sustainable economic alternative to large-scale mining in post-conflict Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

PANGUNA, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, Sep 7 2016 (IPS) – The Panguna copper mine, located in the mountains of Central Bougainville, an autonomous region in the southwest Pacific Island state of Papua New Guinea, has been derelict for 27 years since an armed campaign by local landowners forced its shutdown and triggered a decade-long civil war in the late 1980s.

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The former Rio Tinto majority-owned extractive venture hit world headlines when the Nasioi became the world’s first indigenous people to compel a major multinational to abandon one of its most valuable investments during a bid to defend their land against environmental destruction.

“That is what we were fighting for: environment, land and culture.” — Lynette Ona

Today, local leaders and entrepreneurs, including former combatants, see the site playing a key role in sustainable development, but not as a functioning mine.

“Our future is very, very dangerous if we reopen the Panguna mine. Because thousands of people died, we are not going to reopen the mine. We must find a new way to build the economy,” Philip Takaung, vice president of the Panguna-based Mekamui Tribal Government, told IPS.

He and many local villagers envisage tourists visiting the enigmatic valley in the heart of the Crown Prince Ranges to stay in eco-lodges and learn of its extraordinary history.

“It is not just the mine site; families could build places to serve traditional local food for visitors. We have to build a special place where visitors can experience our local food and culture,” villager Christine Nobako added. Others spoke of the appeal of the surrounding rainforest-covered peaks to trekkers and bird watchers.

An estimated 20,000 people in Bougainville, or 10 percent of the population, lost their lives during the conflict, known as the ‘Crisis.’ Opposition by local communities to the mine, apparent from the exploration phase in the 1960s, intensified after operations began in 1972 by Australian subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd, when they claimed mine tailings were destroying agricultural land and polluting nearby rivers used as sources of freshwater and fish. Hostilities quickly spread in 1989 after the company refused to meet landowners’ demands for compensation and a civil war raged until a ceasefire in 1998.

In the shell of a former mine building, IPS spoke with Takaung and Lynette Ona, local landowner and niece of Francis Ona, the late Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader. A short distance away, the vast six-kilometre-long mine pit is a silent reminder of state-corporate ambition gone wrong.

According to Ona, the remarkable story of how a group of villagers thwarted the power and zeal of a global mining company is a significant chapter in the history of the environmental movement “because that is what we were fighting for; environment, land and culture.” And, as such, she says, makes Panguna a place of considerable world interest.

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Bougainville Experience Tours

Zhon Bosco Miriona, managing director of Bougainville Experience Tours, a local tourism company based in the nearby town of Arawa, which caters to about 50-100 international tourists per year, agrees.

“Panguna is one of the historical sites in Bougainville. People go up to Panguna to see for themselves the damage done and want to know more about why the Bougainville Crisis erupted,” he said.

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In a recent survey of Panguna communities by Australian non-government organisation, Jubilee Australia, tourism was identified as the second most popular economic alternative to mining after horticulture and animal farming. Although realising the industry’s full potential requires challenges for local entrepreneurs, such as access to finance and skills development, being addressed.

Objection here to the return of mining is related not only to the deep scars of the violent conflict, but also the role it is believed to have had in increasing inequality. For example, of a population of about 150,000 in the 1980s, only 1,300 were employed in the mine’s workforce, while the vast majority of its profits, which peaked at 1.7 billion kina (US$527 million), were claimed by Rio Tinto and the Papua New Guinea government.

Today, post-war reconstruction and human development progress in Bougainville is very slow, while the population has doubled to around 300,000. One third of children are not in school, less than 1 percent of the population have access to electricity and the maternal mortality rate could be as high as 690 per 100,000 live births, estimates the United Nations Development Program.

People want an economy which supports equitable prosperity and long term peace and local experts see unlimited possibilities for tourism on these tropical islands which lie just south of the equator and boast outstanding natural beauty

“In terms of doing eco-tourism, Bougainville has the rawness. There are the forests, the lakes, the sea, the rivers and wetlands,” Lawrence Belleh, Director of Bougainville’s Tourism Office in the capital, Buka, told IPS.

Bougainville was also the site of battles during World War II and many relics from the presence of Australian, New Zealand, American and Japanese forces can be seen along the Numa Numa Trail, a challenging 60-kilometre trek from Bougainville Island’s east to west coasts.

“There are a lot of things that are not told about Bougainville, the historical events which happened during World War II and also the stories which the ex-combatants [during the Crisis] have, which they can tell…..we have a story to tell, we can share with you if you are coming over,” Belleh enthused.

Improving local infrastructure, such as transport and accommodation, and dispelling misperceptions of post-conflict Bougainville are priorities for the tourism office in a bid to increase visitor confidence.

“Many people would perceive Bougainville as an unsafe place to come and visit, but that was some years back. In fact, Bougainville is one of the safest places [for tourists] in Papua New Guinea. The people are very friendly, they will greet you, take you to their homes and show you around,” Belleh said.

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Bougainville Tourism News : Visiting national tourism delegation confirms Bougainville tourism potential

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The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is the furthest island from the mainland of Papua New Guinea (PNG).  The island’s unique ethnicity, vibrant culture, natural scenic landscapes and historic sites offer many opportunities for major tourism development.Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Tobias Kulang , the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA), the Office of Tourism Arts and Culture and staff from the minister’s office were in Bougainville to officially launch the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative 2016-2020.

The project aims to develop Buka Town into a tourism hub by 2018 and connecting the Autonomous Region of Bougainville with the Pacific through the Solomon Seas Tourism Zone Initiative.

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Above: Hon.Tobias Kulang with Buka town mayor, Buka town manager, Tourism Associatin Minister, Vice Minister Robert Hamal, Hon. Jimmy Minigtoro, Minister for Communication and ABG Tourism Director at the official unveiling of the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative.

The visiting national tourism delegation was taken on a tour of popular sites and attractions in Arawa, Buin and Kieta.  During the tour Minister Kulang and the delegates met with officials from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and representatives from the local tourism industry.

In an internal report based on the findings from the visit, the PNGTPA made a number of recommendations for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville government (ABG) with regards to tourism development, including:  developing a Tourism Master Plan, Tourism Funding support for the ABG and for the local tourism industry to form an association to better voice issues and concerns faced by the tourism industry in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

PNGTPA and the ABG will continue tourism discussions throughout the year.  Tourism delegates from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will be invited to the annual Lukim PNG Nau tourism expo in Port Moresby hosted by the PNGTPA and the PNG Tourism Industry Association.

Included in delegation is Zhon Bosco Miriona ,Managing Director, Bougainville Experience Tours who has now represented Bougainville Internationally for the past 6 years travelling to Europe and Australia

Bougainville Tour Options

For further information regarding the national tourism delegation visit to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville contact PNGTPA marketing coordinator Mr. Joel Keimelo, email: joel.keimelo@papuanewguinea.travel

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Bougainville Tour Options

Bougainville Tourism News : #PNG Minister for Tourism launches Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative

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National Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture, Tobias Kulang in partnership with his colleague ABG Vice Minister for Tourism, Robert Hamal Sawa, today officially launched the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative 2016- 2020.

Photo and Text Augustine Minghai Kinna

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Bougainville culture at its best! The YUMI YET BAMBOO BAND from Haku Constituency of Buka District performing in today’s launching of the Buka Town Tourism Development Initiative 2016- 2020.

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The initiative will be a strategic roadmap towards making Buka Town a tourism hub by 2018. This is an on going programme that aims to pursue not only remarkable but tangible developments through to 2020 and beyond by establishing the Solomon Seas Tourism Zone Initiative which will enable cooperation and links with the wider Pacific.

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The onus is now with the people of Bougainville to take ownership of the initiative in supporting the ABG government and other relevant authorities with the programme. Tourism is a hidden pot of gold in Bougainville that needs to be tapped into to be realised. Today’s launching signifies the start of greater things to be achieved by the tourism industry in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea has a whole.

And a visit to South Bougainville

Text and Picture Sasha Tahei Pei-Silovo

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The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Honourable Tobias Kulang being welcomed by cultural groups in Buin-South Bougainville earlier today.

The Minister accompanied by a delegation of representatives from the Ministry, Tourism Promotion Authority, National Cultural Commission and Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture, and ABG Members met with Tourism stakeholders in Buin to discuss ways forward in developing Tourism in the area.

The Minister is officially touring the Autonomous Region visiting South, Central and North Bougainville and will also launch the Bougainville Tourism Programme and Buka Tourism Plan on Friday in Buka. #PNGTourism #AROB #Buin #TobiasKulang #Pacific #tourism #Bougainville

 

Bougainville Tourism : Wakunai interesting sights, things ,places and people

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In this article Simon Pentanu picks out interesting features, sights and things in Bougainville where most locals take the ordinariness of  life and place for granted.

After travelling the world whose variety of civilisations, traditions and cultures provide so much variety and spices of life, he says seeing and writing about things and places gives him a new lease of in the twilight years of retirement and rest from work. Here is his offering on Wakunai in Central Bougainville.

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Wakunai is one of three districts in Central region, central Bougainville. The other two districts are Kieta and Panguna. To those that have visited or have worked on Bougainville, Kieta and Panguna do not need much introduction.

Next time you are on the east coast highway from Buka to Arawa or all the way to the bottom end down south in Buin do yourself a favour and take a quick stop along Wakunai beach. You will be pleasantly surprised what meets with your eyes and senses. It is a breath of fresh air of the sea breeze facing out to the open sea. During and nearing the end of the crisis the same seas were part of the lanes for the plying sea traffic of outboard motors doing cargo supplies from Buka to Kieta. Wakunai station also served as the half way security check for sea traffic between Buka and Kieta. This is all in the past tense now.

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Wakunai has a long, wide consuming bay where you’re a tiny speck in the distance with long, jutting peninsulas on either side which give the bay its width and vast expanse.

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Along its long beach with the Wakunai river mouth delta at the northern end pebbles and polished stones in assortment of smooth shapes, sizes, colours and contours adorn the black beach. They are bared out by the ebb and flow of the tides. They are nature’s work and a marvel to hold or carry and look at.

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Looking up from the beach this a place where the daily sunset disappears behind the ruminating Mt. Balbi, the highest altitude on Bougainville. On some very clear days the vents atop bare Balbi can be seen to jettison its own geyser-like white steams like a tired baldy old man at a very advanced age that is trying to exhale his puff and smoke in slow motion. It’s a clear view from the bluish black beach along Wakunai bay.

Nearby by the beach inland from Kiviri point is an overgrown Wakunai landing strip that has seen better days. You can’t see much of the strip driving by with kunai-like tall grass getting in the way. I can still vividly recall landing here on my first airborne travel on a TAA DC-3 in late January 1965 after taking off from a dirt Aropa airstrip on the way to Buka to start high school at Hutjena. The Wakunai airstrip is in disuse now but it is a short-cut walking track. It is also there, not really abandoned, if ever a distressed small aircraft or a helicopter might need it for emergency crash landing.

Wakunai used to boast one of the biggest coconut plantations in the southern hemisphere, the Numanuma plantation. Numa was planted during German times. The Numa WW2 track that traverses a tropical terrain from east to west starts here. The trek is either a trying and difficult walk or an exhilarating, refreshing walk to the west coast. It depends on level of fitness and mental preparedness to start and finish this personal challenge.

Wakunai’s evergreen hinterland and soaring hills and peaking mountains right up to and around Mt. Balbi remain a Pandora’s box with such tales as sightings of the mamanguria for example. This is the district where you cross the Red river with its source high in the mouintains, so named because of the red rocks on its river beds and banks that you can see from its old bailey bridge crossing.

This is Rotokas country. The Rotokas language holds the claim in the Guinness Book of Records as the indigenous language with the fewest vowels. Up inland on good, trafficable dirt road are Togerau and Ruruvu where there is majestic waterfall that attracts local visitors no end.

See Rotokas Ecotourism Info

Up here too is Bougainville’s first hydro project that is supposed to harness the Wakunai river at its multiple heads not far from the waterfall. Rotokas culture and traditions up here and further inland remain intact, including the Upe culture that is revered and protected here and along the West Coast.

The Upe symbol on the Bougainville flag livery gives the flag it most identifiable and conspicuous feature.

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The upe is totem-poled to mark the inner boundaries of Bougainville’s Parliament House at Kubu on Buka Island.

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Wakunai district will also always hold pride of place and history on the Island where the first girls high school was established. The Catholic nuns from Australia from Society of Mary established the only girls Asitavi Girls High School when teaching began here with a handful of girls in 1959. The roll-call of girls who have passed through the school and done well in professional life and personal and family lives in the country and at home on Bougainville is a long one. The school as it exists today is worth a visit.

Next time you are travelling by road along the east coast highway, do yourself a favour and stop. Just like Colin Cowell did on a Bougainville Experience Tour last year

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Or convince your driver to make the next relief stop by the beach. Walk Wakunai’s black beach and pick yourself a souvenir to take home, a small or large pebble polished by the ebb and flow of both sea and sand since creation They come in all sizes and are a marvel for all seasons. The rarer ones are the round and elongated, clayish- to-almost-mission- red colours.

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See All tours HERE

Six Day Bougainville Culture Tour

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Bougainville Tourism News: Some insights into tourism development in #Bougainville #PNG

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“ABG recognises the largely untapped potential of tourism and is aware Bougainville has the natural attraction to lure adventure and niche’ travellers to its shores. But a lot needs to be done . Success does not come overnight. There are no short cuts and quick fixes in success in anything.

ABG’s financial resources and capacity which has to be shared with other areas and services seeking more urgent attention has not been easy. Clearly, this creates a lot of room and space for private enterprise driven participation in an industry that can be both profitable and enjoyable with the right advice and approach and sense of ownership.

Simon Pentanu was appointed Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives in June 2015.

Picture above Bungalows under progress at Uruna Bay Retreat

He comes from Pokpok Island where he has a home and a private retreat through which community participation and paid employment of women and youth amongst its Island communities is being promoted. He advocates“small, rural and local is beautiful” across Bougainville.

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Bougainville’s natural  beauty and attractions, including its vibrant culture like the rest of the country, can be best showcased with serious and deliberate government involvement. For now this is lacking and can be explained largely as a result of lack of resources, capacity and focus and due to the fact that since it was established the tourism office and responsibility has been moved from pillar to post. The settling in, focus, funding and seriousness has been amiss.

With so much potential staring at us in the face tourism in Bougainville it is time our political leaders and bureaucrats alike take the attitude that if tourism has to contribute to ABG’s coffers, then it should be well-intended and for good gain. A number of private operators that have been self-starters to promote tourism are the ones carrying the baton up front. The amount of promotion they are doing both out of joy in promoting the beauty of the Island and as a business is a good story.

The Autonomous  Region today is, in many ways, at the stage in its attempts to promote tourism where PNG was about 30 years ago. Then, PNG started its budding attempts to promote the industry. It wasn’t something easy like a casual walk along the beach, a nearby bushwalk or a small hill climb. It was gradual with early forays into areas of unique attractions like for example driving into a village in Asaro to be greeted by its famous mystical Asaro mud men. There are other numerous examples such as the early cruises up the Sepik or the Baining Fire Dance and the Malagan mask phenomena in the New Guinea Islands. Along the way tourists started fitting their itineraries and visits to the annual calendar of many provincial Cultural Shows which have now become well renown and frequentedannual events. Bougainville can not only learn enormously from these early starts, including teething issues in the rest of PNG but can start to fit its own cultural events around some of the dates of these events.

The PNGTA is a vast repository of information and experience that Bougainville tourism authorities can tap into. The world has become small in an industry that has virtually encompassed countries  globally and where there are no boundaries or barriers to movement or travel, barring religious and fanatical wars. PNGTA is benefitting enormously from its membership, attendance and participation in regional and global tourism events. It has also learnt that it does not have to copy or compete for the same markets like others but has created its own brand of adventure, cultural and niche’ attractions.

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SEE Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotions Authority Website

Along the way PNGTA has learnt some hard, some sad but many useful lessons. The aches and pains have come with the successes and joys in seeing and industry grow into many niche’ attractions around its many tribal and ethnic cultures, languages, landscapes and seascapes. Bougainville stands to gain a lot from the road travelled and challenges met by PNGTA. Bougainville does not have to reinvent the wheel but we can improve the oiling and lubrication in our spokes and nuts and bolts to cruise forward with so much potential begging to be tapped.

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SEE : Bougainville community support and vision puts Bougainville tourism on the world’s stage

Zhon Bosco Miriona, Managing Director of Bougainville Experience Tours for second time in the past few years was able to represent Bougainville on the world stage supported by Colin Cowell an International media and tourism consultant with over 25 years’ experience marketing Indigenous tourism

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In March 2016 Zhon is representing Bougainville in Germany at ITB the worlds largest travel show VIEW ITB SITE Listing

Download the PNG ITB Promo press release

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Top Photo Social media  : Online tour bookings site , Facebook ,@YesBougainville on Twitter and Bougainville Tourism INSTAGRAM are playing an important role in Bougainville Experience Tours  International Marketing

Second Photo Above : Developing partnerships with Wako Napusu Inbound operator Country Tour PNG and Asian operators above to bring in small groups for a 7 day Bougainville Tour Experience

PNGTA has also matured in keeping in check the pros and cons of tourist invasions, so to speak. It is a very sensible approach. The country does not necessarily want to promote tourism for arrivals en mass. This is a very important consideration in developing niche’ markets and keeping cultures genuinely intact. No one can ever completely preserve cultures in a test tube or a freezer but impact of outside influence and modernity can be managed with sensible long term policies and cooperation between government policy makers and independent state supported tourism bodies or corporations. In this regard, in terms of government support to PNGTA it has been a journey on bumpy roads, through humps, pot-holes and sometimes swaying bridges along the way. But the Association has been the richer and mature for the experience.

Bougainville can learn from all of the above. We can forge meaningful contacts, contracts and understanding for assistance in going forward in a planned and deliberate fashion with PNGTA.

It is heartening to see emerging self-start operators like Zhon Miriona Bosco from Bougainville Experience Tours and others in north and south Bougainville to establish links with PNGTA in brooding tourism in Bougainville. In time, there is no doubt other individual operators will emerge as Bougainville continues to open up to one of the cleanest and visible industries that can promote the Island.

ABG recognises the largely untapped potential of tourism and is aware Bougainville has the natural attraction to lure adventure and niche’ travellers to its shores. But a lot needs to be done over the years. Success does not come overnight. There are no short cuts and quick fixes in success in anything. ABG’s financial resources and capacity which has to be shared with other areas and services seeking more urgent attention has not been easy. Clearly, this creates a lot of room and space for private enterprise driven participation in an industry that can be both profitable and enjoyable with the right advice and approach and sense of ownership.

Clear, comprehensive, comprehendible mid to long-term policies is one way ABG can put tourism on a better footing. It is from this position that the Ministry, office and authority charged with responsibility to promote tourism in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville can develop deliberate and better long term view from the standing, stationary start is at now.

In the present Momis-Nisira Government the Minister for Economic Affairs Hon Fidelis Semoso MP has the will, the clout, the credentials and the leverage required to establish a meaningful and working contact with PNGTA. This would move the office from its dormant existence to at least some level headed planning view to where or how far Bougainville wants to take its tourism.

There are some aspects of office work that does not necessarily need huge funds but rather just thinking things through and mapping out. One such area concerns the risks and inhibitions to any opportunity to attracting and expanding tourism as an industry. First and foremost is the issue of law and order. This is a major concern in selling tourism in PNG but to its credit the PNGTA has spared no effort in putting better and localised perspective to this menace. Bougainville can certainly learn a thing or two from the arduous efforts PNGTA has made in this area. Landowner issues is another one when trekking and bird watching or just bushwalking is involved. Issues of benefits to a local community are matters that should attract attention to authorities. Advice and mentoring to willing starters in local areas is another area our officials in tourism office can help without much expenditure in resources or efforts.

The cost of travel to and within PNG is expensive. In more Bougainville it is even more expensive right across the board including airfares, local transport, accommodation, even food in lodges and motels. This should change over time and there is some evidence of this as the level of accommodation and variety of food in Buka and Arawa in more decent accommodation is improving.

Bougainville Office of Tourism Website

Developing an annual calendar around cultural events that are staged by communities for their own importance and purpose at their own time is something the office responsible for tourism in Buka can certainly work on. It is more reliable to plan this way because for communities these cultural events aren’t scheduled around tourist visits but have been a part of their life and cultural significance for years. On the part of tourist office staff this involves going out to the people to promote awareness over time. Instead of waiting for large funds the tourism office should go out to the people for which the cost shouldn’t be huge at all.

Some training and education for intending and existing tour operators and tour guides is a must so there is proper awareness on the do’s and don’ts of tourism. Again there is no need to reinvent the wheel. A working relationship can be established with PNGTA to help the tourism office in Bougainville. To this end there are also opportunities annually for the office of tourism and for private operators to attend tourist expositions hosted by PNGTA and by other Associations in the region.

It often begs the question, what does the office of tourism actually do in Bougainville? This is not a rhetorical question but a question that is being asked more and more. And rightly so. When you have good, attractive, usable and functional product to develop and promote and sell very well  why is it hard to promote and sell. Everyone boasts about how Bougainville is beautiful, how we might become a Mecca for tourists looking for authentic pristine beauty or how relatively peaceful it is for tourist to find once they get here. BUT who is doing the hard yakka that’s got to be done?

The Minister responsible for tourism can be best served by the tourism office by providing good briefs on where we are at, where we want to be in the next four years based on the remaining years of the current Government. And, in addition, how best the Government and private operators can best consult each other. The experience of PNGTA in this regard would be quite valuable. The current Minister’s audacious, no nonsense and result oriented approach would bode well with the benefit of good, regular advice from those that are charged with developing the industry. As already mentioned, establishing meaningful links with PNGTA is bound to pay good, tangible dividends.

Bougainville has always learnt the hard way from its shortcomings. The courage and conviction of the people to succeed at all is always there and has always moved everybody on and forward. Tourism has the potential as a reliable and clean income earner and cash generator . We can do this through joint effort between government and private enterprise and through humbling ourselves to ask others that have travelled this road to help and guide us, specifically PNGTA. PNGTA is already a very recognisable product, a global brand name in the tourism industry.

Bougainville can prove its worth best through doing the hard work led by those tasked and paid in the office of tourism. Any other joint effort will come if the officers and authorities start pegging and advancing their work inside and outside the office. It is not enough to just trumpet out the all too familiar metaphor we are so used to chanting and hearing that “we can do it”.

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Simon Pentanu pictured above learning international tourism marketing from Colin Cowell ” selling ” to 30 international buyers at a travel Expo in Port Moresby 2014. From left Zhon , Colin ,Simon and James Tanis.

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“Bougainville is a land of simple, untouched pleasures; from our turquoise seas to lush rain forests.Experience our unique Bougainville Island, nature, culture, history and friendly people “

 

 

 

 

Bougainville Tourism News : Historic Japanese Yamamoto WWII crash site opened to tourists in Bougainville

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The World War II crash site of a military plane carrying Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who masterminded the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, has been opened to visitors in Bougainville for the first time in more than five years.

Yamamoto’s plane was gunned down by allied forces in 1943, sending the Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’ crashing down into the thick jungle of Papua New Guinea’s autonomous Bougainville region.

Access to the site at Kokopo village, in the region’s Buin district, had been closed due to a land dispute between rival clans.

But the area recently reopened, with local tourism operators hoping this year — the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War — would result an increase in the number of international visitors.

Visitors stand in front of the Yamamoto crash site in PNG's Bougainville region

Historic WWII crash site opened to tourists in Bougainville for first time in more than five years

“The plane is still sitting there in the jungle. But at the moment, the people there have made gardens close to the site,” Zhon Bosco, owner of Bougainville Experience Tours, told Pacific Beat, adding the area was being cleared.

“We’re having a lot of inquiries, people are already booking with us to see the site. But most of them haven’t confirmed the dates to come in.”

Interest in the war strategist and Japanese navy commander is as strong as ever, particularly among the growing number of Japanese tourist travelling to the Pacific to learn more about their military past.

“For Japanese people, it’s one of the most significant World War II history sites around,” Mr Bosco said.

He said visitors would not be deterred by the long travel time or land disputes surrounding the crash site.

“We have a network with the locals. For Yamamoto crash site, we have connection with them so every time when people want to go there, we tell them there are people coming in, so they prepare themselves,” Mr Bosco said.

“I think people coming here, they will not have any problems with security.”

Yamamoto’s legacy remains

Yamamoto is remembered for his role in the attack on Peal Harbour in the US, which left more 2,400 Americans dead and another 1,000 people injured.

Japanese Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku

“Yamamoto is the most exalted hero in the imperial Japanese navy’s history. And he’s been untainted by Japan’s defeat, and he’s been untainted and any hint of war crimes,” US naval historian Mark Stille said.

“He remains a hero in Japan today.”

Yamamoto was instrumental in planning the attack on Pearl Harbour, which was not a strategic priority of the Japanese navy until he agitated for it.

“Here’s a man who thought he knew the American psyche. He thought that by — putting it simply — sinking a few battleships that he would shock the Americans into a negotiated peace,” Mr Stille said.

“Of course the exact opposite thing happened. Had the Japanese stuck to their strategy, perhaps occupying the Philippines on their way to Malaysia and Singapore, and the areas down south, that they had to have for the oil they needed to break the US embargo.

“Had they done that there would have been a different US reaction.”

Yamamoto was shot down after American code-breakers found out he was planning to visit troops stationed off Bougainville.

For Tour bookings contact Zhon Bosco Miriona

www.bougtours.com Tel International : +675 736 56050 Local PNG 73656050

 

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Bougainville Tourism News : First Japanese tourists to visit reopened WW2 Yamamoto site

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After 10 years of closure, Bougainville’s iconic World War II relic has reopened to tourists.

Story By Ishmael Palipal

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.”

Chairman Raphael Bakiri standing at the side of the Bougainville Experience Tours hire car with Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours.
Chairman Raphael Bakiri standing at the side of the Bougainville Experience Tours hire car with Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours.

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

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