Bougainville Tourism News : Bougainville remains attractive and spectacular enough as a destination for small adventure travellers and cruises like True North. #northstarcruises

 ” Tourism that brings benefits and opens up opportunities through participation by local resource custodians/owners is a good win-win concept for communities.

The world is waking up to realize that PNG, including Bougainville, is up there with the rest of the world when it comes to eco and adventure tourism with its natural habitat and traditions and cultures still largely intact.”

Simon Pentanu

Bougainville Adventure Travel

Cruise vessel True North will make its second cruise visit to Bougainville on 19 December 2017, exactly a year after its maiden cruise to Bougainville PNG last December. 

True North’s cruises to what it calls  ” spectacular Bougainville ” ,packaged as CAIRNS/ALOTAU – BOUGAINVILLE-BUKA/CAIRNS 10 day Melanesia cruise.

For further details of the visit to Kieta / Buka contact local agent for the tour, Bougainville Experience Tours at bougtours.com

On this visit a variety of local performances represented by Island and mainland cultural groups will be hosted at at Uruna Bay Retreat, Pokpok Island.

In a similar smorgasbord  of cultural performances last year North Star Cruises which owns and operates the cruises selected a local group for sponsorship to a cultural festival in Adelaide in 2018. 

The Island community benefits from  cruises here from fees for anchorage, swimming, snorkeling, diving, surfing, beach bathing, cultural performance, sale of local kulau drinks, artifact sales, etc. through their Metora Ward which is part of north nasioi community government. 

Over and above any local benefits, international cruises are also one of the best advertorials to promote and popularize what Bougainville offers as attractions in this growing industry in cruise tours in Oceania.

Bougainville Adventure Travel will be working closely with ABG Office of Tourism to help and promote resource owner participation in all tourism ventures where travelers visit local historical, traditional, sacred sites and assets and locations of interest in different regions of Bougainville.   Bougainville Experience Tours is already doing this more or less.

 In many areas the resource custodians are already involved and are participating of their own accord with local Bougainville tour companies and operators by arranging and hosting tours in their local areas.

There are only a few places in the world that have not been adversely affected by mass tourism by their isolation and a determination to protect their lands, cultures, traditions and a continuing sense of self preservation. Bougainville – and the rest of the country – remains attractive and spectacular enough as a destination for small adventure travelers and cruises like True North. #northstarcruises

 

 

Bougainville International Tourism News : Drones are flying high to film a 10 Day Bougainville Experience Tour

 November Issue: Bougainville International Tourism News

1.Australian film crew releases first of many Bougainville tourism experience short films to international tourists

2.Flights lights for Aropa Airport to increase tourism Central Bougainville

3.Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program in 2018-2019

1.Australian student film crew releases first of many Bougainville tourism experience short films to attract international tourists

The Autonomous Region Of Bougainville

There aren’t many places left like this in the world.

This is a project I have put my heart and soul into.

The film documents my personal experience in this beautiful part of the world.

Or VIEW HERE

A film by Zane Wilson

Exploring what this place has to offer, from the untouched tropical islands to the remote mountain villages and all the amazing people that come with it. This is an experience I will never forget.

10 days so far in the autonomous region of Bougainville. Coming into this trip not knowing what to expect, it has been an adventure like no other.

See the full details 10 day Bougainville Experience Tour below

Experiencing village life in the mountains, being the first person in history to fly a drone over certain villages and showing the people their home from above for the first time was truly a special moment.

Then moving to the coastal life, watching kids paddle their way to school on canoes and live sustainably from the ocean and the land. Their way of life eye opening and something people all over the world can learn from.

Bougainville is home to the friendliest people on earth, being treated like family everywhere we go.

It was hard to say goodbye to such an amazing place.

A huge Special thanks to Zhon Bosco, Colin Cowell and the team of Bougainville Experience Tours and all the sponsors (see Listed Below ) for supporting this film project, thanks to them I have been able to capture moments I have only dreamed of.

Stay tuned for more images and a full feature film coming soon. I cannot wait to share this experience with you all.

Zane Wilson 18 year old Student Port Macquarie Australia (Assisted by Sam Magennis) Follow Zane Here

https://www.facebook.com/wilsonvisuals/

Principal Sponsor

1.Bougainville Experience Tours

www.bougtours.com

A massive thank you to the team behind Bougainville Experience Tourism for supporting this project. If you are interested in going on a similar expedition like this, get in contact with them and they will assist you in every way possible.

Enjoy the film

2.ABG Bougainville Office of Tourism the land. Tourism Manager : Lorena R Nanei

http://www.bougainville.travel/

3.Kuri Resort Buka

http://kuriresortbuka.com/

4.Rotokas Eco Tourism

https:/rotokasecotourism.com/

5.Uruna Bay Retreat Pok Pok Island

http://bougtours.com/tourism/accommodation-2/pokpokisland/

6.Topinang Village Guesthouse

http://bougtours.com/tourism/accommodation-2/topinang_village/

7.Rising Sun Lodge Arawa Town, Central Bougainville

Bougainville Background

Bougainville has a population of approximately 200,000, occupying two main islands, Buka Island and the larger Bougainville Island with groups of islands known as “The Atolls”, (Nissan, Carteret, Mortlock) scattered to the north east of the main islands.

The landscape of Bougainville Island is rugged, punctuated by two active volcanoes, Mt Balbi and Mt Bagana. The coastline features beautiful, sandy beaches, often fringed by dominant coconut trees. Many fresh water rivers run from the mountainous central corridor, down to the east and west coasts of the island.

The 10 Day BET Features

  • Over nights stays in 3 “traditional” villages (mountain and island)
  • Experience Melanesian, sustainable, ecofriendly community living
  • Experience and share language, cultural activities and performances
  • Experience all aspects of village life from gardening to cooking
  • An island retreat with fishing, water sports and relaxation
  • Travel across island from Buka to Arawa
  • Environmental bushwalks experiencing unique flora and fauna
  • We will take you on a journey to the “core of culture

Includes

  • All airport tranfers,4WD transportation and boat hire
  • All accommodation in village style comfortable guesthouses
  • All meals both western and traditional style
  • All entry fees paid to traditional owners of regions visited
  • All guiding fees and travel expenses such as bottled water and snacks
  • Visits to your interest areas such as health, education, women’s issues etc.

Day 1:

              Fly to Port Moresby PNG from anywhere in the world

Day 2:

              Fly Port Moresby to Buka

               Accommodation:  Kuri Resort

Day 3:

            Travel to Mt Balbi Rotokas Ecotourism

 Tour: Travel down the east coast of Bougainville to Wakunai stopping at village markets and other points of interest. When then travel off the main road for 2 hours to your home for the next few days at the foot of Mt Balbi. Visit Togarau Fall

 Day 4

             Experiencing mountain village culture – Rotokas Eco Tourism

  • Experience Melanesian, sustainable, ecofriendly community living
  • Experience and share language, cultural activities and performances
  • Experience all aspects of village life from gardening to cooking

 Accommodation: Togarau community guesthouse

Day 5

Tour: Travel by car and then a short boat ride Bakawari Island, also known as Pokpok, is just off the coast of Bougainville, located near the Kieta Wharf in Central Bougainville. It is only a 5 minute boat ride from the mainland to the island and most people use canoes to go back and forth.

The sea is an integral part of the life in Pokpok Island and everyone who lives on this island is a waterman. Many people from mainland Bougainville think that fishing is a job for men, but on Pokpok Island anyone that knows how to swim and dive can find whatever food they need from the sea.

Day 6

Experiencing coastal/island village culture – Pok Pok  

Dinner: Traditional island welcome feast including crayfish in season

Accommodation: Uruna Bay Retreat on Pok Pok

Day 7

Experiencing Mountain Village Topinang

Activities:

  • Experience Melanesian, sustainable, ecofriendly community living
  • Experience and share language, cultural activities and performances
  • Experience all aspects of village life from gardening to cooking 

Dinner: Traditional welcome feast

Accommodation: Topinang Guest House

Day 8

Experiencing Mountain Village Topinang

Tour: Visit Arawa and Panguna Mine

Lunch: Picnic lunch

Accommodation: Rising Sun

Day 9

Travel back Arawa to Buka airport

Tour: Spend afternoon visiting Buka and Sohano Island, Buka Market, New Dawn FM Parliament House

Dinner: Kuri Resort

Accommodation:  Kuri Resort

Day 10: Thursday 16 November

Fly Buka to Port Moresby 

2.Flights lights for Aropa Airport

The installation of flight lights at Aropa Airport would allow visibility and provide guidance information to help pilots acquire the correct approach to the airport.

Member for South Bougainville, timothy Masiu, presented a part payment cheque of K100,000 of the total funding component to Air Niugini and NAC on Friday for the installation of Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) flight lights at Aropa Airport, Kieta, South Bougainville.

Once these lights are installed, Air Niuguni would be able to operate jet aircrafts into Aropa Airport.

This airport is one the oldest airports in PNG and the busiest because of the Bougainville Copper Mine.

It was during the crisis when the airport and its facilities were tampered with, which later had to be rebuilt.

Masiu said the government, though the leadership of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, rehabilitated the airport and runway and Air Niugini began its services with the Q-400.

Masiu said air services into Bougainville are very important.

“It’s part of the development that is taking place in Bougainville along with education, health facilities being redeveloped and brought up to another level now.”

He said after the crisis, most of the services were received in Buka Island only, which meant that the whole of Bougainville had to travel to Buka to get a plane out.

“For the planes to begin landing again we needed these facilities and as partners in development, it would be in the best interest of the people of South Bougainville to assist.”

Masiu has made another commitment for another K100,000 to be put into the refurbishment of Aropa Airport to help facilitate for the PAPI lights.

National Airports Corporation general manager, Jacob Anga said it is very encouraging to see especially during this economic time when provincial members come out to help their people.

“Its good for the people of South and Central Bougainville going forward and as for NAC, as the owners and operators of the airports in PNG, which includes two airports in AROB, we are committed to ensuring the compliance, safety and maintenance of the airport consistently and we can service the people by ensuring that Air Niugini does a safe landing and safe taking off”, Anga said.

Air Niugini general manager for grounds operation, Marco MC Connell, said : “Once this gets underway, the jets resume ops back into Bougainville, Aropa Airport. It ‘ll make it more conducive for business opportunities.”

3.Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program in 2018-2019.

 Applications Due November 30, 2017

The East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the first cohort of the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Programin 2018-2019.

Program Description

The East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) received a grant from the Professional Fellows Division in the Office of Citizen Exchanges at the U.S. Department of State’Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to conduct the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Programin 2018-2019.

This program will bring two cohorts of tourism industry professionals from the Pacific Islands to Honolulu, Hawai‘i for intensive six-week programs that build significant new capacity and facilitate enduring professional bonds between industry leaders in the United States and the Pacific Islands. The Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program will draw broadly and deeply upon Hawaii’s unique position as an American state with one of the world’s premier tourism industries. It is designed to build capacity across the Pacific region by creating strong and enduring connections between 32 mid-level Professional Fellows from 13 Pacific island countries and no fewer than 13 Hawaii-based Americans in private and public tourism-related organizations.

Dates

Spring Cohort

  • April 23 – May 29, 2018  Activities/Placement in Honolulu, Hawai‘i
  • May 30 – June 1, 2018  Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC
  • Fall Cohort
  • October 8 – November 13, 2018  Activities/Placement in Honolulu, Hawai‘i
  • November 14–16, 2018  Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DCEligibility

Applicants must:

Be citizens/nationals/permanent residents of one of the eligible countries

Be between the ages of 25-40

Be currently employed in their home country and have a demonstrated history of at least 2 years of employment in the tourism industry

Be willing and able to obtain a J-1 visa and spend 6-weeks in the United States

  • Be committed to returning to their home country after the program
  • Have a track record of making an impact in their organziation, company, or community
  • Be capable of creating an action-orientated plan to address a specific business problem or policy challenge being faced in their country
  • Have sufficient spoken and written English language proficiency to effectively function in an American workplace.Eligible Countries

For the Spring 2018 cohort applications will be accepted from the following Pacific Islands countries:

  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Nauru
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Timor Leste
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • VanuatuDeadlineHow To Apply  

For all the details and an online application form go here.

Your application must be received by midnight November 30, 2017 (Hawaii Time).

#Bougainville #Tourism #Environment News : We must protect our paradise islands for future generations

“If there is one memory that still reoccurs and revisits my mind more than any other, it is this. This is a nice place to grow up in. I have never stopped going back and re-living that childhood to this day.”

Simon Pentanu

Pokpok Village. Pokpok Island.
photo credit: Stephen Hurd

Uruna Bay Retreat – Pok Pok Island Bougainville PNG

For information and bookings

Dense forest, with tall trees creating huge canopies as they competed for sunlight, used to come down right to the village backyard. As kids we were cautioned not to wander alone into the hills. There were too many unknowns in the untamed forest.

However, one thing was certain. The trees, vines and shrubs had to give way to gardens. And people always chose the best land areas for garden plots.

The forest was cleared and the produce harvested by mothers and daughters was always plentiful and colourful. Nature never failed to provide sustenance to our community on Pokpok Island.

Slash-and-burn gardening continues today, although there is some reprieve with the coming of consumer goods and processed edibles now readily available in village tucker shops and trade stores. It’s a small island, so human impact on it is quite obvious. The land and surrounding waters bear the burden of an increase in population. Much of the island is rocky and rugged. Arable land is very limited.

Where today there is secondary forest, starting from the beaches and village backyards, there was once primary forest. During storms, especially when it was windy, you could hear the whole forest howling, sounding like a thundering underground train preparing to come to a stop at the platform. After continuous heavy tropical downpours the sound of the flowing creeks in the forest and bushes was more like a jet aircraft pulling up to park at the bay to disembark its passengers – a hissing noise throttling in between.

A little away from the main village, the possums used to come down along the tree tops to the trees by the beach. Birds’ nests were everywhere, some from birds we don’t see anymore. Among the trees and shrubs were wild berries and fruits for the picking, although most were not picked, but left to provide natural decor to the bushes because garden food and fish from the sea was always plentiful. The forest provided more than enough for possums, flying foxes, fruit bats and other nimbling creatures.

The reef you see in this photograph used to be fully laden with colourful coral all the way along its edge. Starfish, schools of different fish, weed and sea grass meadows and varieties of edible sea urchins shared their natural habitat with the children of the village.

What is now largely white sand under water was mostly covered with long sea grass where squid laid their eggs. Parents would tell us to look out for the squid eggs and avoid them. Much of the tall grass is gone and squids don’t spawn around here anymore. In fact, the whole reef area, which makes the whole village seafront beautiful, was larger, richer and prettier than it is today.

Around the reef perimeter was coral of every kind, fully alive and breeding. The sea anemone with its clown fish tenants were plentiful. Other colourful small marine creatures contributed to an underwater aquarium of teeming small colourful fish complementing the living beauty of coral.

As kids we grew up swimming and canoeing around here. Today it is no different. It still is a playground for every child who lives here. It is always hard to get children out of the waters, even after sunset.

The noticeable difference to our generation is the whole reef area has shrunk. The best parts of the live coral all around the village, which naturally extended the reef out under water, are almost gone. Washed away. Bleached. Dead. Disappeared. Even the crown of thorns and a whole array of star fish that were part of the reef aren’t here anymore. Fish are still around, but not in the numbers, colours and varieties we used to see and enjoy.

At its best this area acted much like mum’s garden in the hills. It provided fish, shells, clams, seaweed and varieties of sea urchins. The unique smell of the sea flavoured the village. It was a constant reminder that you lived by the sea.

The ground level photos and the pictures from the air are stunning. There is no doubt about that. They are some of the best sea scenery photos you can get. But much of the real, live natural beauty underwater is gone. We often recognise our own reckless and perilous ways when it is too late to save what we have lost.

The village is still a beautiful and serene habitat. But it was even better, as people of my generation remember.

Some things can be restored and nature is, as we know, capable of replenishing itself. Given space and left alone to regenerate, forests and even reefs can revive. But they will only get the opportunity to do so if we humans acknowledge and change the things we do that are hurting our own Mother – the source of our life – the Earth.

Simon Pentanu

Bougainville Day 2017 Reflections on the past : Are our greatest resources the environment, our cultures and our people ?

 “June 15, is a very symbolic occasion. It marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, in this sense Bougainville Day captures the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Bougainvilleans.

The last twelve years have been some of the most challenging, yet fruitful, for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville as we continue to forge ahead to decide our ultimate political future.”

Happy Bougainville Day and God bless you all.

Chief Dr. John L. Momis GCL, MHR
President

” As another Bougainville Day arrived and passed us by we continue to contemplate, celebrate and share the belief, hope and faith that with the right efforts and proper use of resources Bougainville will continue be a resilient society among its Melanesian brothers in the country and in the Pacific Islands.

What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?”

Simon Pentanu asks in Part 2 below

Part 1 The President

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has made significant progress in strengthening its faculties through passing important laws in the Bougainville House of Representatives and revitalizing the Bougainville Public Service into a lean and effective service delivery mechanism.

We have passed many new and important laws such as the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 which is one of the very best in the world as it gives Bougainville resource owners more control over their land and resources. The recent partial lifting of the Mining Moratorium on Bougainville is a clear indication of the ABG’s drive to foster fiscal self-reliance in the region.

Over the years our public service has been plagued by corruption; it is a deeply rooted problem that continues to hamper our development but we have since made efforts to curb this problem.

The setting up of the Auditor’s Office and the recent opening of the Ombudsman Commission’s office in Bougainville has provided us with the necessary means to tackle the corruption problem head on, not just in the public service but throughout Bougainville. The recent developments in the public service shows that the ABG will no longer tolerate corrupt practices.

We have set the indicative date for the referendum to be held on June 15, 2019. The ABG is already preparing for this very important event and the newly created Department of Peace Agreement Implementation will be taking the lead on this.

I would like to remind you all that our people are a people highly favoured. We have been blessed with the right to self-determination and this right we have paid for with the blood, sweat and tears that we shed through the darkest hours of our history, and that was the Bougainville Crisis.

We will not go quietly into the night, we must stand firm and stand united and make our voices heard, for at this juncture, unity is our greatest bargaining power on the eve of the referendum.

Today I ask all Bougainvilleans to reflect and to consider what you can each do to help Bougainville achieve its true destiny and dreams.

All of us have a role to play – our farmers, industrialists, students, teachers, health workers, public servants and our elected leaders.

By working together and moving ahead with a common goal there is much that we can achieve.

My challenge to you is to embrace this change and contribute to the journey. Together we can achieve greatness and as your President that is my ultimate goal – for a proud, united Bougainville.

Happy Bougainville Day and God bless you all.

Chief Dr. John L. Momis GCL, MHR
President

Part 2 Simon Pentanu

Not everyone will agree with me, but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians.

Wherever we look around the world, there are lessons we can learn. Some communities and their environments have become victims of progress, not partners in development.

Think about the Melanesian people of West Papua. In the past 40 years vast quantities of their gold, copper, timber, palm oil and other resources have been mined, chopped down, extracted and exported, but few impartial observers would say this has been to the benefit of West Papua’s environment, cultures and people.

Of course, the vast majority of the resource extraction that has happened in West Papua has been undertaken with little or zero community consultation.

We have the opportunity to do things differently. To this end Bougainville’s mining legislation and policies address this. Let us hope it works in practice so that all parties involved in this industry and any such investment which harnesses resources are equal opportunity benefactors.

When we consider the various options open to us, I believe a CGP (community government partnership) is a more sustainable choice than a PPP (public private partnership).

CGP has the community as its starting point. CGP is a partnership that regards and protects the environment as enduring capital for sustainable humanitarian development.

A PPP is fine if it regards resource owners in communities as equal partners. But too often PPPs see resources merely as disposable commodities and consumables in a profit-oriented business model.

That way of thinking ends up depleting our strongest long-term assets for short-term gains that are here one year and gone the next.

Bougainville’s greatest resources – our environment, our cultures and our people – deserve so much better than that.

We can learn from the lessons from the past – some of which have been the most profound insofar as they have affected our society more than any other society in Melanesia, and the whole of the Pacific for that matter.

 

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

 pp-1

” 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.

pp3

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.

pp-4

 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.

pp2

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 : 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.

W . A . K . U . N . A . I .

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 “