” 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. “
Picture above and below : Travellers and crew from the cruise ship True North on Pokpok Island 19 December 2016 experiencing a cultural performances
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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
“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 “
“Just as you feel politically responsible in serving your constituency, as Speaker my role and responsibility is to equip and serve you to perform your principle roles as legislators and decision makers in your role as service providers. In other words, our primary interest is the same and that is to serve our people.
As Members of the House this can be best done in four main ways.
One, by strengthening the institution of Parliament. This will take all of us from the President down to the Members to first recognise that in the system of democracy and governance we have chosen the Parliament is the epitome of our democracy as provided for in the Constitution. The Parliament as a body comprising the Peoples representatives is the highest accountable as well oversight body of people domiciled and functioning in a single place. We need to appreciate and add value to this.”
Simon Pentanu Speaker, Autonomous Bougainville Government 2015-2020
THE Autonomous Bougainville Government has a new speaker.
He is former Ombudsman Commissioner and former National Parliament clerk, Simon Pentanu.
Mr Pentanu, from Pokpok Island in Central Bougainville, was voted in by the members of the 3rd ABG house after the swearing in of the new member’s yesterday (Monday) morning at the parliament chamber.
A speaker of the parliament is voted in by the members and must be from outside of parliament whereas the deputy speaker must be a member of the House.
Only two candidates were nominated by the parliament members and Mr Pentanu was nominated by parliament members from the Central regional committee while Andrew Miriki, former ABG parliament speaker, was nominated by the South regional committee.
A secret ballot voting was conducted by the 40 members of the house and Mr Pentanu was declared the Speaker after surpassing the absolute majority of 20+1, scoring 23 votes while Mr Miriki scored only 17 votes.
Mr Pentanu thanked the former speaker and the members for making the decision to elect him as the new speaker and said he does not represent any constituency but represents the members who represent the people.
“The parliament is my constituency and my role a responsibility is to serve you the members in decision making and the parliament is a highest body for the people and is an institution to uphold democracy, laws and tradition of the people…,” he said.
After taking his seat front of the chamber Mr Pentanu then proceeded to conduct the secret ballot voting for the deputy speaker that was won by Francisca Semoso, who is the North Bougainville Women’s member, against Christopher Kenna, who is member for Lato constituency in South Bougainville with 28 votes to 12.
I am going to break from convention and tradition that new Speakers often follow to script when they are elected to assume the Speaker’s Chair as I am doing today.
To start with let me begin, on your behalf and on my own behalf, by acknowledging and paying respect to all the local clans on Buka, the traditional custodians of this Island – especially here in Tsitalato constituency – where we are meeting today and where this House, the highest decision making body, is situated at this time.
In saying this I thank all Members, including the President, for exercising your individual choices to arrive at a collective decision in appointing me to assume the role of Speaker. What we just witnessed with the Clerk chairing the first business of the House was a very democratic process in which the Speaker was elected through a secret ballot.
In thanking you and acknowledging your decision I wish to say what is important to recognise is, regardless of how or where a Member voted in making their decision during the ballot, the appointment of the Speaker is the choice of the House.
As Speaker my allegiance is to the House and to all Members irrespective of what region, constituencies, special interest or gender you represent.
I may be from Central Bougainville, I may have been nominated by the Central regional committee. Yes, making a choice to reflect a fair regional representation is important in fostering the spirit of unity. Yes, unity of purpose and united approach has been the hallmark of peace building and reconciliation efforts all along in getting to where we are today. We all well know this. And yes, we should also remind ourselves on occasions like today the Bougainville Constitutional Commission gave a lot of thought, consideration and credence to a fair and equitable representation in the spoils of office during its arduous task in drafting the Bougainville Constitution.
I feel humbled and honoured and at the same time proud to be the one saying this. On the other hand, or should I say by the same token, I would also rather like to think – and I am sure many honourable Members also share this view – that any Bougainvillean that is appointed by the House as its Speaker is done largely on the candidate’s merits.
The Speaker does not represent a geographical or electoral constituency. But it is important to point out that he or she is appointed by the people through their representatives in this House.
In a very real way then, the Parliament is my constituency. The Members are my constituents.
Just as you feel politically responsible in serving your constituency, as Speaker my role and responsibility is to equip and serve you to perform your principle roles as legislators and decision makers in your role as service providers. In other words, our primary interest is the same and that is to serve our people.
As Members of the House this can be best done in four main ways.
One, by strengthening the institution of Parliament. This will take all of us from the President down to the Members to first recognise that in the system of democracy and governance we have chosen the Parliament is the epitome of our democracy as provided for in the Constitution. The Parliament as a body comprising the Peoples representatives is the highest accountable as well oversight body of people domiciled and functioning in a single place. We need to appreciate and add value to this.
Two, the Parliament is an institution that will best function and deliver the values that we aspire to in our democracy only when its constituent parts are well resourced, well served and well articulated and assisted to perform your political roles. This includes meaningful participation in decision-making in Parliament through debates, through parliamentary committees which are an extension of the Parliament and through your direct engagement with the people.
Three, in building and strengthening the Parliament through you as members, the Speaker’s role in the Bougainville Parliament is not one of just a Presiding Officer or Chairman of meetings of the House. I will call on all my previous experience as a parliamentary officer and Clerk of a the Parliament of a successful sovereign nation, an experience that extends over 25 years. With this experience and background I am confident this places in a position to ensure that the management and administration of the parliamentary service is above board and that everything we do is transparent.
Four, it is important there are close and meaningful consultations with the Speaker and the Clerk with the Executive in planning and appropriating sufficient resources to allow better and more proactive roles by members in serving their constituents and in maintaining an effective and efficient functioning Parliament.
Might I also add that the House as well as the Executive needs to start paying more attention to the Members representing Women and Former Combatants who have been elected to their respective reserved seats. The Bougainville Constitutional Commission was very deliberate in including this provision of reserved seats in the Parliament. The Parliament and the Government must give practical effect to enhance the participatory and decision-making roles that women continue to play and that former combatants can bring to bear in resolving and bringing to closure many issues that remain to be addressed and attended to.
Today, June 15 2015 marks the third anniversary of ABG. How and where we start in performing our roles in this Third House of Representatives will determine how much we improve and achieve at the end of the next 5 year term starting today.
Let me take this opportunity to thank my immediate predecessor, former Speaker Hon Andrew Miriki for his services in providing leadership in this role in the last two Houses. It is a service to duty to the Parliament and to the People that is worth mentioning and putting on record. I have followed Speaker Miriki and he can be well proud of his leadership and chairmanship that saw the passage of a number important legislations which are further steps towards implementing both political and financial autonomy. This includes the passage through Parliament of the various stages of the mining legislation.
Similarly, I wish to put on record our thanks and appreciation to the pioneer Speaker of the House Mr Nick Peniai. Mr Peniai who took on the task as first Speaker of the first House with great optimism and enthusiasm. I can say this because after assuming office he sought advice and consulted with a number of us quite extensively. The most important achievement during Speaker Peniai’s tenure was the admission of the Bougainville House of Representatives as a full member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
As Speaker, I give you my assurance that as head of the legislative arm and as Presiding Officer I will perform to the best of my ability in upholding and protecting the values of this institution.
In saying so, I also stress my conviction that this is only possible if we all work together. I will be a working Speaker. However, I must repeat that we can only achieve any goals and objectives by working for each other but more importantly by working with each other.
We will do this with decorum, integrity, dignity, transparency, accountability, honesty and hopefully with an acute sense of purpose. While the Speaker is expected to maintain independence in office this independence should not be confused with isolation. I will keep my lines of communication open to allow for meaningful consultations and discussions with all Members.
Finally, I congratulate the President, members elected to the open constituencies, members elected to the reserved seats for women and former combatants for winning your respective seats. Among us today we have for the first time a woman who has won her seat in an open constituency seat.
I thank you all for placing your trust and confidence in appointing me as Speaker for this third House of Representatives 2015 – 2020.
May God bless this House and bless all of us to be worthy servants of and for our people.
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