By Ishmael Palipal
A significant shift in the approach to regional tourism has begun with the launch of the Buka Town Tourism Development Plan Initiative 2016-2020 at the Bel Isi Park, Buka Town, on Sunday 14 July.
The major aim of the initiative is to develop Buka town as a tourism hub in the region.
The launch saw the unveiling of the program billboard and the new Buka Urban Council logo.
The formation of the Solomon Seas Tourism Zone Initiative Committee was also announced, which will help develop other potential tourism sites on Bougainville and the region as a whole.
Tourism is one of the major revenue generators that Bougainville is looking to put a greater development focus on.
The autonomous region is seen has having many tourism attractions that both Papua New Guinean and international tourists would enjoy.
Potential areas for tourist activities include site seeing, village stays, hiking, island outing, fishing, bird watching, attending a traditional feast and cultural festivals.
All it needs is a more organized structure, with the establishment of industry bodies and avenues for greater exposure.
Present at the launch was the National Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Tobias Kulang.
Mr Kulang emphasized that a strong cultural base should be built and for the region, with tourism bureaus should be set up for Central and South Bougainville with commitment from ABG.
He stated that potential sites still need to be developed in Bougainville need to be reliably accessible to be impressive and conducive for tourism.
Before the launch, Minister Kulang and a delegation, including MP for Central Bougainville Minister Jimmy Mirringtoro, ABG Minister for Economic Services Steven Suako and ABG Minister Community Development Robert Sawa, visited potential tourism sites in South Bougainville and Central Bougainville before heading to Buka.