Team Solomons at the Dubai Expo 2020 has attended a highly encouraging and successful Forum on ICT and Eco-Tourism organized by the PNG Expo delegation on Friday 14 January 2022.

Deputy Commissioner General Mr Dennis Marita praised Papua New Guinea Commissioner General Ambassador Joshua Kalinoe for organizing the event on the margins of the Expo.

"Such initiatives by our fellow Pacific Island nation PNG has helped elevate our status as Pacific Peoples attending Expo 2020 and will indeed draw interest from prospective stakeholders in the Region and from around the world".

Joining DCG Marita were Ms Jenny Barile of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade and Public Relations and Media Manager Mr Kelepi Abariga.

With the theme ‘Living in Balance with Naturel; Eco- Tourism & Connectivity’, the opening remarks were delivered by Mr Eric Mossman Uvovo, CEO of Tourism Authority of PNG.

In delivering the keynote address, Minister for Information and Communications Technology Honourable Timothy Masiu said the PNG culture and folklore is about living in Balance with Nature and is reflected in their contemporary art and dances through mask, yam, crocodile and canoe festivals, as well as staging colorful cultural shows in the highlands, the coasts and islands of Papua New Guinea.

However, Minister Masiu noted that the biggest challenge was how to bring this diversity to the world through appropriate connectivity infrastructure that would help us to share this richness with the rest of the world.

He added that PNG does not have sufficient air connectivity to major world destinations, including the UAE and the Gulf States and that their presence at Expo 2020 Dubai was a pathway to realizing some of the opportunities that would assist the country in the development of critical infrastructures such as roads, wharves, air transport and internet connectivity.

Whilst Minister Masiu wants their visitors to experience a mixture of both the modern and traditional means of PNG lifestyles, Digital technology in this century and access to broadband internet for its citizens and visitors would add value to the natural environment and cultural diversity of Papua New Guinea.

Mr Abariga recommended that Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu pursue close collaboration with the relevant authorities in the UAE to assist and enable intending tourists from the Middle East the opportunity to travel from their respective countries to either Dubai or to Singapore and Honk Kong and then direct to Port Moresby, Honiara or Port Vila, as most of the Arabian and international visitors to our Pacific Islands Pavilion prefer to have lesser stopovers during their trip.

PNG Commissioner General Ambassador Sir Joshua Kalinoe mentioned that Papua New Guinea was in the process of establishing a new Air Services Agreement (ASA) with relevant stakeholders which would assist in enabling more convenient travel routes into Port Moresby and was hopeful that other Pacific Island countries could also follow suit.

Ms Jenny Barile said that the Forum had generated much interest with many of the topics discussed would be also relevant to some of the developing needs of the Solomon Islands and how we can all work together as fellow Pacific Island.

“The seminar was very interesting. And it was good to hear different speakers from various sectors both from PNG and UAE. It shows that there is still much untapped tourism in our Pacific Island Countries that we have to offer. Tourism needs strong commitment from both the Private Sector and the Government”.

PNG Commissioner General Ambassador Joshua Kalinoe in acknowledging the various presentations thanked participants that contributed adding that the discussions are now a global or common knowledge which the countries and regions the world over are continuing to embrace.

“What I have learnt is that there are people outside PNG who are willing to assist our country in our further developments whether it be Tourism or Forestry, but connectivity is important in order to get goods and services to reach vast destinations.

PNG is also taking seriously the idea mooted to have a Pacific Visa to enable visitors especially from the Middle East direct and easy access to Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and that our country would be an ideal gateway to all our neighboring Island countries but it’s just a matter of us working together to help realize some of the opportunities before us”.

Ambassador Kalinoe also supported the idea shared by Mr Sajith Kumar for PNG and other Pacific Island Countries (PICs) to consider being part of the SME Global concept.

Source: GCU