Posts Categorized: Tourism

Decrease in cultural shows a blow to tourism

By Ishmael Palipal

620-pokpok-tourism Locals welcoming tourists in Pokpok Island, Central Bougainville, Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

A senior officer for Bougainville Tourism Office, Mr Lawrence Belle, has said that Bougainville has big potential to boost its economy through the tourism industry.

Mr Belle told New Dawn FM news that the Bougainville tourism industry could earn millions of kina if given the right attention and funding by the government.

Bougainville is one of the beautiful islands in the pacific region, with many tourist attractions, a very rich history right and unique cultures.

Mr Lawrence Belle ratified that Bougainville has a lot of attractive places that people from overseas would like to visit while in the PNG.

Tourists visit Kieta wharf area in Central Bougainville. Picture: Jacob Ienu. Tourists visit Kieta wharf area in Central Bougainville. Picture: Jacob Ienu.

He believes that cultural festivals are vital to draw tourists and it is unfortunate that many of these cultural shows would not be staged this year, because there is a lack of funds to host them.

The only festivals that will be conducted this year are the Mona Festival which will be held towards the end of August. The festival is conducted yearly in Buka because of their tradition of the light sea-craft without outriggers that is held on Buka passage.

Other festivals will be staged in 2016 due to the prohibitive costs in hosting these festivals.

Meanwhile, Mr Belle revealed that the functions of the Tourism Office have now been amalgamated with the new Department of Economic Development.

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Development increases need for accommodation in Arawa

By Gideon Davika

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The number of guest houses and lodges in Arawa town is increasing due to the development that is taking place throughout the region, especially in South and Central Bougainville.

Last year some well-established guesthouses and lodges were built within the town area and on the outskirts of the town.

One of the local businessmen in Arawa town, Mr Philip Pinaung, said that demand is very high and the number of guest houses is not enough to cater for the number of visitors coming into the town.

Pinaung, who owns Arevai Guest House, also said that the demand for guesthouses has been stimulated with the re-opening of the Aropa Airport last year.

There are many people touching down at the Airport, especially tourists, who are coming into the province and need to find a place to stay.

Local guesthouse owners say that most of their regular customers are government public servants, who travel within the province from Buka to Arawa, Siwai, Buin, and those who come from the National government to hold special meetings with the Autonomous Bougainville Government in Arawa.

The Arawa Town Council is advising businessmen and women who wish to establish guesthouses to find a suitable location that is away from the residential and commercial areas, where guests will enjoy privacy and comfort.

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Floriculture group beautifies and empowers

By Leonard Fong Roka

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The Bel Isi Park seems to be at heart of every activity in Buka Town these days and just prior to Christmas 2014 the park was stunning beyond imagination as it was home to the festival of flowers.

From 15 to 21 December 2014 the park was a beautiful collections of flowers and handicrafts from Buka Island and Kieta for sale at the event organised by Bougainvillea Flower, a local organisation for the promotion of floriculture.

According to Clotilda Miriona, Bougainvillea Flower was founded by Francisca Semoso, the former North Bougainville Women’s MP in the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

“Francisca Semoso and her whole family support us in this project,” Mrs Miriona said.

“We aim to make alternative ways for our women across Bougainville to earn their living and support their families.

“Women and men need to explore areas of being florists and also crafts like weaving baskets, axe handles and many of our rich crafts known to the old ages.

“They supported our ancestors and now we need all these means to sustain us and our economy also.”

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Mrs Miriona leads the women of the Topinang villages in the hinterland of Arawa and they stay connected to the other women of Bougainville through floriculture and other arts and crafts.

They carry awareness to villages on flora and engagement with environmentally friendly money making businesses, such as tourism and hospitality.

“We extended calls to womenfolk all around central Bougainville but their response was not so good,” Mrs Miriona admitted.

“Someone has to be dedicated to the vision and move on as a role model and others will come along later.”

Tourism related activities like domestication of flowers, crafts like carving, music and so on are slowly sprouting, but need collective effort to flourish and be a change making industry for Bougainville.

Miriona stated that though politicians are ignorant of such small but life changing projects, they are still going on throughout Bougainville. Groups in Buka and Kieta have a vision and support one another to move forward.

“It’s all about sustainable development for Bougainville,” she added, “we are working to make Bougainville an attractive destination for tourists.”

“Visitors love to see and collect the small items of art which we are trying to specialize in.”

Mrs Miriona’s Kieta stall had collections of sikee (a fan for dancing from Kieta), wild flowers from the bush around their home, locally carved kitchen utensils, axe handles, toora and notuu (woven bag and belt for knapsack in Kieta), flower pots crafted from fern trunks, bows and arrows and a number small mortars and pestles.

The Bougainvillea Flower organisation is pursuing the ongoing empowerment of women across Bougainville.

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Kokoda artist fosters young talent

By Gideon Davika

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Joseph Dengke from the Kokoda Constituency in Kieta District was a teacher by profession but through his career he developed his drawing and painting skills to become one Bougainville’s artistic community.

He is a very well known person throughout Kieta and local businesses, especially restaurants and guest houses, often hire him to do paintings on the interior walls. Local people also buy his paintings to decorate their homes.

The main subject of his paintings is Bougainvillean wildlife and the diversity of the many cultures in the region.

As a teacher by profession, Mr Dengke has a desire to pass his skills and talents to the young generations in his community.

Last year he taught several boys how to draw and paint and since then he has collaborated with them.

Mr Dengke said that the boys are doing well and one of the boys who he taught is now at Kabeleo Teachers College at East New Britain. He said that the boy is now supporting himself by selling his own paintings to the resorts and hotels in Kokopo Town.

Joseph Dengke aims to teach many boys and girls to paint so that they can setup a local museum or art gallery in their community for tourists and local people to come and see the beauty and talent of Bougainville.

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Yamamoto crash site reopens for tourists after a decade of closure

By Ishmael Palipal

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

The crash site of the Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’, which carried the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, is located at Kokopo village of Makis Constituency in Buin District.

Admiral Yamamoto was one of the Japanese masterminds of Pearl Harbor attack and was gunned down with his war plane on 18 April, 1943 by US forces, causing his plane to crash south Bougainville.

According to the landowners Chairman Mr Raphael Bakiri, before the crisis the Yamamoto crash site was one of the hottest tourism spots in Buin District.

He stated that the place took in many tourists every day and the villagers now want to revive that.

“The place was very restricted because it is on the border of two clans,” Mr Bakiri said.

“This caused a conflict, but after the recent reconciliation they are very happy to make revenue out of it in an equal basis.”

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

According to Mr Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours (BET), the first Japanese tours will visit the Yamamoto site in the month of April. These are Nichibu Research Group who is already booked with BET to do a four day tour and Yamamoto site is their priority site to visit.

BET also stated that more interested requests for the site are coming in. One confirmed for June and July is Japanese Homestay documentary filming group.

Steven Tamiung stated that according to the villagers, Bougainville Experience Tours is the first and the only tourism consultants that the landowners are engaging to bring tourists to the Yamamoto 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.”

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A reflection on 2014 – an historic year for Bougainville

By Ishmael Palipal

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People at the tarmac of Aropa Airport during the opening ceremony.

2014 was a great year in the history of Bougainville. Let us not yet put away the important events that will later be known as Bougainville history.

Since I have been writing on many of these events I would like to just briefly reflect back on the major events of 2014 and show that we can do much better in 2015 and beyond.

First of all as a post-conflict region that will soon make a decision on becoming a nation, we have so far gone through a lot of thick and thin, but here we fancy highlighting the positive happenings. Through positive thinking and action we’ll prosper.

2014 begun on a high note for our region with the goodwill visit from Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill, who came from January 27-29. He became the first ever Prime Minister to visit to central Bougainville since the Bougainville Crisis. The Prime Minister visited Buka, Buin, Panguna and Arawa and his stated aim was to foster peace and unity amongst leaders from Bougainville and PNG.

He made it his priority to see that infrastructural development takes place in Bougainville and this has been evident with the re-opening of the Post PNG, Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited, Department of Works, and Air Niugini Ticketing Office, amongst others. The visit by Prime Minister O’Neill also paved the way for the re-opening of the Aropa Airport which is currently in use by traveling public now.

The National Government Minister for National Planning & Monitoring, Hon. Charles Abel, followed suit by coming to Bougainville to open a number of national government funded projects. These included opening of classrooms in primary, high secondary schools. These facilities will enable and cater for the increased enrolment of school students throughout Bougainville. The Minister had the privilege to meet with the staff of the Arawa Health Centre who presented him with a proposal to upgrade the facility’s status from health centre to hospital.

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MV Chebu being welcomed at the Buka passage by outboard motors.

On November 11 2014 we witnessed the arrival of the newly bought Bougainvillean ship at Buka. The new ship, MV Chebu, is a joint venture with the Chow family and was bought to minimize the cost of travelling to other provinces. It is now serving the route from Buka through Rabaul, Lae and back.

The day after the arrival of MV Chebu it ferried about 350 plus Bougainvillean athletes to Lae for the 6th Papua New Guinea Games. Bougainville, without much in the way of proper sporting facilities and equipment, came fourth out of 21 provinces that took part in the games.

The re-opening of the Aropa International Airport in the lead up to the festive season of Christmas and New Year was a very memorable event, witnessed by many. The airport was jointly opened by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, and ABG President, Chief Dr John Momis, and is now serving the people of central and south Bougainville. It marks the opening of a new era and is the biggest of all the recent achievements.

New developments are set for 2015 including the general election for the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The government that will be formed from this election is vital for the future of our region and will lead Bougainville to a referendum on autonomy and independence. I therefore would like to urge all our people to think carefully and choose the right leaders to carry us forward.

Do not choose a leader because he gives you money or because he is your wantok, choose a leader that will help you for a long run. Remember, we have suffered enough through the years of civil war and now we see many still suffering because of our own choices.

We must screen and decide the right leaders who will carry us forward with justice, equality and honesty. No mothers should continue to shed their tears because of a lack of services provided; no children should continue to suffer because of corruption, injustice or self-gain and Bougainville should move higher with healthy and honest leaders in place this year.

We are in a critical period now for our journey to achieve referendum and the onus is now upon us Bougainvilleans to work together in peace and unity.

Remember, your vote in this ABG Election can break or mend Bougainville!

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Loloru Lake – a popular site for local tourism

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Lake Loloru in the mountains of Bogisago is one of the most beautiful lakes in the region and attracts many people who come over to Buin.

Loloru is considered as the source of the big rivers in south Bougainville such as the Loluai, Mipo, Aipia and Mailai.

It is regarded as the place of the death by the old people of Bogisago and it is a traditional belief that when people die their souls go to the lake.

The local beliefs about the lake have slowly been fading away as the young generation of Bogisago seldom uphold these traditions.

People from Laguai and Kangu are the frequent visitors of Lake Loloru, particularly during the Christmas holidays. This trip is usually a whole day, going to the lake in the morning and coming back again in the evening.

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Rotokas Ecotourism promotes environmental care

By Ishmael Palipal

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The Rotokas Ecotourism (RET) in the Wakunai District of central Bougainville was founded to promote tourism in the Rotokas area and the region as the whole.

RET is a locally owned tourism project and set up to help the community with environmental issues and benefit from its unique ecosystem.

The group provides training for locals to enable them to provide appropriate accommodation, cooking and sanitation facilities for the guests that travel to the area.

Located in the mountains of Rotokas, there are many interesting places and things to provide the region with the tourism.

The environmental preservation side of the RET is an equally important part of their activities.

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The deep blue sea of Elutupan attracts tourists

By Maryanne Hanette

Bougainville has an interesting recent history, in particular World War II and the things it has left behind.

Japanese, American, Australian and New Zealand forces spent time serving in Bougainville and there are relics scattered all over the island from the east coast to the west, from north to south and on some of the islands surrounding Bougainville.

Bougainville is also blessed with many interesting beautiful archaeological sites. In North Bougainville many of the places along the Buka ring-road have interesting tourism sites, mostly secret spots.

Elutupan is the first village you pass when traveling to the Haku constituency in the Northern region of Bougainville. The place is named after its beautiful elutu, which is like a lagoon.

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WWII relics are a tourism draw

By Pauline Karalus

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Bougainville carries many wartime secrets in its jungle-covered hills, where the United States Marine Corps began their advances against the Japanese, following a horrible battle for Guadalcanal in the nearby Solomon Islands.

Torokina, on the West Coast of Bougainville, is the site of a historical invasion involving land and sea battles between allied and Japanese forces. Many unexploded ordinances and World War II relics can be found there.

Much of the road network and an airstrip built during WWII is still intact. In the pre-crisis days Torokina was also famous for the heavy surf that could be found there.

About 25km north of Buin along the south of Bougainville lays the wreck of the Japanese Betty bomber which was intercepted and shot down by Allied Forces on 18 April 1943. On board that plane was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, one of Japan’s most famous WWII commanders and mastermind of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

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