since 2001 the Eden Project in Cornwall/UK is housing the largest rainforest in captivity and many rare plants in their bubble-shaped Biomes in a former clay pit. The largest real “Garden Eden on Earth” however is the island of New Guinea: With half a percent of the Earth’s landmass, the island is home to about 8% of the world’s species, two thirds of which are found nowhere else. The eastern part of the island is formed by the independent Papua New Guinea, the western part belongs to Indonesia. Similar in size to Thailand or Spain, only eight million people live in PNG, speaking almost 1,000 different languages.
In 2018 close to 200,000 visitors arrived in Papua New Guinea, However, half of them arrived either as day visitors by cruise ship or were those who arrived for employment. The number of Chinese arrivals however is still in the four-digit region. The PNG Tourism Promotion Authority is planning to change this, but in a careful way. The examples of huge groups of less-than-careful Chinese tourists damaging nature and landscapes and behaving less-than-respectful towards local inhabitants which are seen as “aborigines” are many. Other islands from Ceylon to Palau and from Bali to Boracay all shared the problem of big numbers of low-cost travellers from China crowding out the traditional source markets without bringing equivalent income and without upkeeping friendly guest-host relations.
Organised by Joel Keimelo, the resourceful Senior Marketing Officer of the Marketing & Research Division of the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, on October 25th, a China Outbound Tourism Market Workshop will take place in the Hilton Hotel in Port Moresby, the capital of PNG. Your humble author is already very excited about the opportunity to speak during the workshop and hopefully to support the very careful development of Chinese tourism to PNG in a sustainable as well as locally profitable way. It cannot be the goal for PNG to just attract more Chinese visitors, but to attract controlled numbers of those who esteem unique nature and authentic culture and are willing to pay good money for a visit to the last Garden of Eden on earth. Be careful what you wish for, as our friend Roger Qiu of Ctrip often says. 60 new Chinese-owned casino beach resorts in Sihanoukville/Cambodia brought a million more Chinese visitors to the country, with the biggest part of the turnover however going back to China. Only a fraction of such a development would certainly ring the death bell for PNG tourism, nature and culture.
So if you just happen to pass by Port Moresby on Oct. 25th, drop Joel a line beforehand to register your participation.
Wherever you are heading to, as always, a peaceful and profitable week to all our readers,
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY team