I’m currently working on my intended Research on; “The Impacts of Tourism on Indigenous Cultures in PNG: at Time of Tourism Shocks“. I am very passionate about examining indigenous cultures. My long-term goal is to work with indigenous communities after I complete my studies. Especially, where I can assist with developing strategies that they can work with to achieve appropriate outcomes, especially in cultural tourism.
Cultural Tourism in PNG
Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a lot to offer to the tourism industry. Its potential is still unknown. Cultural diversity and authenticity are attracting international tourists to see and experience our culture. While on the other hand, communities are struggling to benefit because they are less involved in the “decision-making” and “planning process” of developing indigenous and cultural tourism.
It is time that the people take ownership of the ventures involving cultural products. For long our people have been disadvantaged from having their own voices. The time is now.
PNG Domestic tourism
With COVID-19 crippling the industry, let us look within our communities and start shaping the cultural tourism sector. One thing that is lacking is the opportunity to make our domestic tourists the first participants. We do not need to look far and wide to make it happen.
Let us revitalise our cultural traditions, art forms, value systems, knowledge and interpretations while the outside world is in chaos. The first steps are taken in our territories. We see what we are capable of before we let the rest of the world see it. We experience it and teach ourselves first.
Make our cultural tourism a commodity
We strengthen and empower one another of the knowledge and traditions passed down from many generations. We are our gatekeepers. Let us not wait for others. We can start now and make our cultures the commodity that will be a big asset when the rest of the resources become non-reliable.
Our ancestors survived without western knowledge and traditions. They had a special relationship with nature. They developed lasting connections that are embedded in our value-systems. Their knowledge was able to solve some of the problems that are now faced internationally. Let’s honour our cultural heritage and use it as a tool to rebuild the tourism industry.
Preserve our ways of life – cultures
Papua New Guinea has the resources and the capability but we are yet to realise it. We are resilient and strong-minded people. We take pride in our identity. That is something that regardless of any pandemic or shock cannot be removed from us. This is my goal and I hope that one day it will be yours too.
Editor’s note: Geno Alova Reuben is a Masters of Tourism Management student (and student Ambassador) at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. We are delighted to publish this article and image under Travel and Opinion categories. Thank you, Geno, for the permission to share your article here.