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PNG Tourism industry caught offguard by cancellation of visa on arrival

The suspension of visa on arrival will have devastating effect on the struggling tourism industry especially in the peak tourism season in PNG.

But late Monday, Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive officer Jerry Agus said he would meet with Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha today to find a way forward in ensuring PNG continues to facilitate for genuine bona fide tourists.

“The temporary suspension for a period of almost a month will definitely affect our tourists because they buy their tickets six months in advance to get special fares, so because of this suspension it will definitely affect our tourists, especially bona fide tourists coming from long haul markets like United States, Europe and Australia.”

Agus said the industry members have expressed concerns that this will send a wrong signal to the tourism industry but these issues would be ironed out today.

“Immigration has agreed that this decision will affected the industry but we will come with a way forward for TPA and Immigration to closely work together to make sure these tourists will continue to come especially the ones that are already paid for accommodation, tickets so that no hassles are created and we will fine tune how we will facilitate for them,” Agus said

Kantha in response reassured the industry that Immigration and Citizenship Authority would provide all the necessary assistance and support to ensure pre-arranged trips by tour organisers and tourists are not severely affected

Sir Peter Barter in an exchange of correspondence between the PNG Dive Association’s Max Benjamin and Chief Migration Officer Kantha said the effect will go beyond the dive sector, it will affect most hotels throughout PNG who also struggling due to the effect APEC is having in deterring tourists.

“Most tourists secure their visa after they have purchase their tours from international and local tour operators, they then pay a deposit and final payment just a week or so before they travel. At this time they would request their tourist visa, and many assume that tourist visas will be issued on arrival.”

“When they cannot get a visa, the operators then have to apologise and refund on FOREX which again is another challenge that is certain to cause problems.” Sir Peter said

“Tourism in PNG is not only Port Moresby, it affects all of PNG and to introduce such a policy at short notice is bound to cause problems for operators in selling PNG as a destination, in short it is totally irresponsible and unacceptable to the industry, to make matters worse, no advance notice was given to the industry who in turn need to convey this ill-conceived policy to operators, airlines and intending visitors.”

Benjamin of the PNG Dive Association said this will need a fast solution to the problem as the existing process for visa application will not work in time.

“The majority of November clients are from all over Europe and North America. The existing 6-week turn around for tourist visas at Brussels and Washington Embassies is insufficient,” he said.


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