Plans To Develop Manus Island Into A Tourism Hub

The Australian Government is helping develop a tourism industry on the Papua New Guinean island it detained asylum seekers on.

The Australian Government Is Funding A Study To Help Develop Tourism On Manus Island In Papua New Guinea.

The island, which was previously used by the government to detain asylum seekers, is still home to around 600 refugees and asylum seekers.

It is funding a study via aid contractor Abt Associates to review the tourism industry on Manus Island, “identifying its various strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities for growth”.

There are still about 600 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island, where four asylum seekers have died and a further two contracted fatal illnesses and subsequently died in Australia.

A number of asylum seekers have also been the victims of violent assaults, including by PNG police and PNG Defence Force personnel stationed on Manus.

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The study is being conducted through aid contractor Abt Associates and will review the tourism industry on the island, aiming to identify “strengths, weaknesses and area of growth”.

The contractor is advertising for a six-month advisor role which will pay around $146,000 plus allowances.

The advisor will be in charge of producing a 12-year tourism plan as well as collating a database of the natural and man-made sites on the island and advertise them on a new promotional website.

The island’s government had requested Australia’s help in boosting tourism, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to help generate jobs and economic growth.

‘Manus is not only the detention centre’

But while the island is chiefly known for hosting the detention centre, the chief executive of PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority Jerry Agus thinks it could become a legitimate tourist destination.

“Actually, Manus has huge potential in terms of tourism,” Mr Agus said.

“One of the greatest areas of strength they have in terms of tourism is diving, surfing is one of them, and there’s a lot war relics in Manus Island as well.”

Manus is the largest of a group of islands known as the Admiralty Islands, many of which are quite beautiful and have previously hosted tourism ventures in diving and surfing.

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Manus has only two hotels, with one currently used to house guards for the asylum seeker accommodation that replaced the detention centre, the ABC said.

The Chief Executive of PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority Jerry Agus, said the island has great potential for tourism.

“It’s not about what you hear about and what you read in the papers.” he told the ABC.

“One of the greatest areas of strength they have in terms of tourism is diving, surfing is one of them, and there’s a lot war relics in Manus Island as well.”

But Mr Agus acknowledged while Manus could provide pretty places for tourists to visit, it had little tourism infrastructure and would have to overcome negative perceptions about the offshore detention regime.

“Manus Island is not … only the detention centre. It’s a big place,” he said.

“There are a lot of things you can see and do — even completely out of sight of the detention centre.

“It’s not about what you hear about and what you read in the papers.

“There’s a lot of positive things going on in terms of tourism development.”

One of the main tasks for the adviser will be to create a new tourism website for Manus Island.

The current one reads: “Life in the city would be stressful. Why not spent a week of mind off at one of the last and isolated island of Papua New Guinea known as the Admiralty Islands or nationally known as Manus Island. It is splendid!”

A key measure of success will be if actual tourists replace those people currently visiting Manus on tourist visas — namely journalists circumventing PNG’s restrictive media visa process and asylum-seeker advocates visiting the people Australia sent there.

 

(Source: Papua New Guinea Correspondent 09 April 2018)

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