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.
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
For further information regarding the national tourism delegation visit to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville contact PNGTPA marketing coordinator Mr. Joel Keimelo, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.”
Bougainville continues to attract International cruise ships boosting tourism, economic and cultural opportunities throughout island according to Bougainville tourism operator Zhon Bosco Miriona .
“One of the potential benefits of cruising is that it brings visitors to remote areas that cannot otherwise to reached, providing a boost to village economies through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and handicrafts”
As the PNGTIA points out cruising allows a new source of economic income and development which can provide associated benefits in areas such as health, employment and education,”
Picture at top: Passengers of a cruise ship arriving at the Kuri Resort :130 visited with 24 of them going diving.
UPDATE from Lawrence Belleh ABG Tourism CEO : In March 2015 a cruise ship will visit the Queen Karoola Harbour Bougainville .This is the first trip to the old Kesa Plantation that is being considered to be turned into a tourism hub on the Northern tip of Buka Island. The hub would benefit Haku, Halia, Hagogohe, Peit and Tons constituencies and their people. There will be also a visit to Pororan Island to experience the sand, beach, cultural displays (photo above) and the opportunity buy Bougainville souvenirs.
Shipping companies are taking an increasing interest in PNG, with passenger arrivals surging and even big ships now heading to PNG’s and Bougainville shores, Brian Johnston reports.
The cruise news looks good. According to a report by the Pacific Islands Forum in mid-2013, the cruise industry has grown 125 per cent since 2005 and 143 new ships have been launched.
Particularly strong growth has been recorded in the Asian and Australian markets; a record 834,000 Australians took a cruise holiday in 2013. That puts Papua New Guinea in a geographically advantageous position.
What’s more, there’s plenty of room for expansion: currently only one in a hundred international cruisers (about 200,000 passengers) visit any Pacific island. In PNG, only five per cent of holiday arrivals are cruise passengers.
‘Cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea is facing a bright future with increased international interest in cruising and increasing willingness from cruise shipping companies to include Papua New Guinea on Pacific itineraries,’ concluded a recent report from the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).
The US, New Zealand, Japan and the UK are significant markets, but half of all cruise visitors to PNG are Australians. That sector is also significant because many cruises are one way, with Australian visitors often extending with land-based holidays.
The PNG Government is taking notice. In 2010 it launched its first comprehensive cruise strategy which looked to improving port facilities and opportunities for shore excursions, waiving visa fees for cruise passengers, and reducing pilot fees by half. With expedition cruising already established, the aim was to entice luxury mid-size ships and even big operators.
‘Cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea is facing a bright future with increased international interest.’
In October 2014, the TPA launched a trade website to educate and inform travel agents. It has also emphasised PNG as a cruise destination in international trade shows and tourism events in Europe, the US and Australia.
While new jetties have been built in Kitava and Kaibola, among others, Milne Bay became the focus of efforts, since Alotau already had a good port and is well positioned on potential cruise routes from Australia. Wharfs were extended and new public facilities added.
In 2013, the arrival of P&O Cruises’ 2050-passenger Pacific Dawn in Milne Bay showed the strategy delivering results.
‘Pacific Dawn’s entry into the region allowed a new wave of low-cost travellers to see the beauty and thriving culture of PNG at a much lower price point than travel to PNG previously allowed,’ says Stuart Thompson, TPA’s Australia and New Zealand representative.
‘It’s a game changer. Mass cruising provides greater consumer awareness, growth in demand and increased repeat visitation. As we’ve witnessed with Vanuatu, cruising has the potential to attract a percentage of past passengers back to the destination for an extended holiday.’
Currently P&O Cruises visits five PNG ports and will add Kavieng and Madang early this year. It has already announced a significant increase in its cruise presence, with its 2015-16 program including its first back-to-back PNG cruises from Cairns, and its first dedicated PNG cruises from Brisbane and Sydney.
‘The addition of two more ships has given us the flexibility to increase our PNG itineraries and open up new destinations. P&O’s return to PNG was possible because of the strong support of the national government and local authorities, particularly in relation to the provision of infrastructure to accommodate cruise ship visits,’ explains P&O Cruises’ CEO Ann Sherry.
In 2014, Pacific Dawn wasn’t alone in visiting PNG waters. Other visits were made by Japan’s NYK Cruises, Holland-America Line’s Amsterdam, the British ships Black Watch and Caledonian Sky, French Polynesia-based Paul Gauguin, ultra-luxe residential cruise ship The World and three ships from both Hapag-Lloyd and Silversea.Princess Cruises now features PNG across 14 different cruises; it has also added PNG to its 2016 world cruise.
‘Mass cruising provides greater consumer awareness, growth in demand and increased repeat visitation.’
Small-size expedition ships continue to have a strong presence, among them Coral Princess Cruises’ Oceanic Discoverer and North Star Cruises’ True North, which carries a helicopter and Zodiac landing boats for access to remote areas. One of its three itineraries focuses on diving the remote Louisiade Archipelago. Aurora Expeditions has a 12-night cruise from Cairns that includes the Trobriand Islands and Tufi fjords.
One of the potential benefits of cruising is that it brings visitors to remote areas that cannot otherwise to reached, providing a boost to village economies through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and handicrafts.
The TPA says 90 per cent of revenue from coastal tourism operators comes from cruising in some destinations. “Cruising allows a new source of economic income and development which can provide associated benefits in areas such as health, employment and education,” says Stuart Thompson.
With the big surge in PNG cruising barely two years old, that remains to be seen, but certainly these are exciting times for cruise tourism in PNG and Bougainville. Watch this space.
Update: With first commercial flights due on December 26
The Phase 1 of the Aropa Airport redevelopment project is nearing its completion as final touches are being put on the terminal , the runway and also general clearing of the airport surroundings.
The Runway has been sealed all the way from the Southern end of the airport to the Northern end. The Contractor (Dekenai) was still doing some rolling this week near end of the runway. Sweeping of the loose aggregates will be completed by this week.
The Runway markings are yet to be done and this will be done after sealing of both taxiway and tarmac area. The runway edges have been cleaned up so well is giving clearly visibility from both sides of the airport.
The old tarmac has been swept and ready to be sealed. Until the sealing is done, markings will wait until completion of sealing and associated works. Drainage works have been completed with former small island within Tarmac being filled by Contractor and will be sealed along with the whole tarmac. It is anticipated that the sealing of both taxiway and tarmac to be completed by end of this week, weather permitting.
The terminal is 95% complete with minor tidying up to do especially VIP lounge within the Arrival Hall. The Departure Lounge is ready for use by Airlines using 3 check in counters. Two Standby Powers Generators are already installed and in place, ready for official opening.
The Terminal Carpark is bieng tidied up and will be completed by end of November. The Public Toilet for Male/Female has been complete and ready for use at end of Terminal Carpark. The Airport Safety Officers( ASO) residence plus the combination of Tractor Shed/workshop is ready for use. A Tractor (New Holland) with slasher attached is already in place.
Last week a team from NAC and a team from CASA PNG were in Aropa as part of the Certification Process. They were in Bougainville to check and ensure basic and minimum safety requirements are being considered during construction, to check and see how far the Project has progressed and or how long more before official date (Tentative Friday 12th December 2014) and also to check on Operational Requirements immediately after the Construction (Personnel, Security etc.)
The Organising Committee( NAC/ABG) for the opening ceremony , have already put plans in place and will further consult frequently to make the day a historic and memorable day for the whole of Bougainville.
He said the establishment of the airport will boost the tourism industry in Bougainville particularly, access flights to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
It would create employment opportunities, improve standard of living and boost the national economy.
Maineke said once the airport is open there will be a connection flights for PNG, Solomon Islands and Australia.
“Our government has redirect its economic focus to tourism for locals to engage in, because of mining industry continues to deplete”
“Potential tourism sites in Bougainville are the war relics and their cultural dances and traditions. Our tourism division is working in partnership with our government to build the tourism hub at Buin.
“Increasing of tourists and international visitors coming to the Island is a clear manifestation for us to improve our infrastructure development in the years to come.
“The airport is a major infrastructure achievement of ABG with its people to propel developments in Bougainville.”
Maineke confirmed that a Solomon Islands government delegation will also be part of the opening.
Picture below Bougainville Experience Tours blue team Zhon Bosco, Colin Cowell, Simon Pentanu and James Tanis in Port Moresby recently promoting tourism to international tour operators: www.bougtours.com
Station manager, Aloysius Laukai, now has 15 staff members working under him as the team seek to build awareness on the biggest issues affecting Bougainville.
Laukai and his reporters use WhatsApp and Viber, cross-platform mobile apps, to exchange information and file stories.
The apps allow reporters to send text, video, images and audio messages using their mobile data allowance.
“Before WhatsApp the audio was not quality,” Mr Laukai said.
“Normally we used telephone lines, which sometimes are very noisy.”
For radio interviews and sound grabs reporters use digital voice recorders and send the audio to the New Dawn FM studio in Buka, where they are edited and aired.
“Sending audio by email the files are too big,” Laukai continued.
“It would be impossible, but now we are using Viber to make calls using data.”
With Digicel coverage reaching an estimated 80-90% of the population New Dawn is able to rapidly disseminate news from throughout the region.
Laukai was also an earlier adopter of social media to increase the reach of New Dawn and awareness of news from Bougainville.
The New Dawn on Bougainville blog was launched in February 2009, not long after the station began broadcasting. The blog provides written versions of New Dawn’s top stories for the day and photographs.
In 2011 Aloysius joined Twitter and set up a Facebook page to reiterate this content across the spectrum of social media platforms.
In 2014 Aloysius also created Bougainville News
Due to infrastructural constraints the station’s FM broadcast coverage is currently limited to Buka and the northern tip of the mainland of Bougainville and so social media allows people with access to the cellular network to get regional news.
An upgrade to radio infrastructure, jointly funded by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Copper Foundation, is expected to be completed soon and will deliver FM signal throughout the region.
Founders of the book-gain-ville project Colin Cowell and former ABG President James Tanis were at the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) PNG Symposium to give a presentation on the Bougainville education revolution using Kindle e-readers known as ‘Bookgainville’, an initiative to improve literacy throughout Bougainville.
Bookgainville is the brainchild of Colin Cowell, from Canberra in Australia who once lived in Bougainville almost forty (40) years ago.
Cowell spent twenty-four (24) years working with and training Aboriginal communities across Australia.
He found his calling to help the people of the former crisis-torn island of Bougainville on a trip to deliver e-readers to students in a remote Panguna village.
Cowell started the Bookgainville project in Australia, with the guidance and support of the Indigenous Reading Project.
The project was launched at the Narinai Elementary school in Panguna district, the home of former ABG President James Tanis. It was then that the first 20 kindles were given, with feasting and celebration to signify the importance of the occasion.
The Bookgainville project is gaining momentum, with support technology and trained staff at the Arawa Women’s Training Centre. Cowell affirmed that sustainability is the key to the Bookgainville project.
A leadership group on ground, led by Mr James Tanis, is comprised of teachers and IT volunteers. The Kindles can contain up to 1400 books inside and cost $99 (Australian dollars).
The use of Kindles in third world countries has proven to be an outright success, using digital platforms and mobile connectivity to make books available to children and families who need them the most.
And with mobile use being prevalent in developing countries, such as PNG, World reader has also created a mobile app for android and featured phone devises. For the first time, folks have access to a library of books using a devise they own: their mobile phones.
In developing countries throughout the world, it has been seen that after 5 months in the e-reader Kindle program, children show significant improvements in fluency and comprehension.
The Bookgainville initiative has developed 11 libraries already in schools that never had libraries or books before, with each requiring 5 e-reader kindles with each kindle able to hold up to 1400 books.
The Bookgainville project received positive feedback at the PNG symposium and both Mr Cowell and Mr Tanis were greatly pleased by the outcome.
Donations to support the project to purchase Kindles for schools in Bougainville can be made by contacting Collin Cowell on or +61401331251 or you can visit www.bookgainville.com for more information.
“Bougainville now leads the way in PNG developing and using digital education technology”
Story and photos by Aloysius Laukai ; additional photos Paul Wagam and Brian Semoso
The three-days Mona festival was hailed a success despite government funding allocation not released on time.
This was the message echoed by the Chairlady of the Festival Committee, FRANCESCA SEMOSO at the close of the festival yesterday afternoon.
Ms Semoso said that despite these hiccups the three-days festival was incident free and safe and was enjoyed by all who attended.
She said thanked the local sponsors who donated in cash and kind to make the festival a success.
Mrs Semoso said that show casing one’s culture was good as it identifies the uniqueness of different groups.
Meanwhile, one of the famous Bougainville actors and co-actor in the Tukana film with Francesca Semoso, MR. ALBERT TORO who was one for the festival organizers, said that he was happy to see all the different people participate at the festival.
He said Bougainville had both the Melanesians and the Polynesians and it was good to see them participate as true Bougainvilleans.
The three-days festival was officially closed by the ABG Minister for culture, Mechior Dare.