“New Ireland Province is a sleeping giant of tourism”.
Minister for Trade Commerce and Industry, Richard Maru made this sentiment when officiating at the opening of a 32 room extension for Niu Lodge in Kavieng, New Ireland Province last Friday.
“If New Ireland Province can harness the potential it has on tourism, the province will be completely changed. The challenge for the province is to get the National Government, provincial leaders and the people of New Ireland Province to find ways on how to come together and make it happen for the province. The honour is on the Government and the leadership of the province,” said Minister Maru.
“New Ireland Province has the tourism potential and therefore you must take ownership of it. However we need tourism infrastructure and products in order to develop the tourism sector in the province.”
He said New Ireland Province must learn from countries like New Zealand that have been developed on the back of tourism.
Minister Maru said New Zealand has no resources like gold compared to New Ireland who has two gold mines but they’ve used tourism to develop their economy.
“We can learn from the experiences of New Zealand on how they built their economy on tourism alone,” he said.
Minister Maru congratulated the owners of Niu lodge, John Merebo and his wife, Gethrude Merebo for their achievement in rising up and starting this business.
Mr Merebo, a builder by profession, founded Niu lodge in 2009. He used his profession to enter into the tourism industry.
He said the rising need for accommodation in Kavieng by the public and the private sector who were on business trips, convinced him that hospitality and tourism was the way forward and he has not looked back.
Kavieng Niu Lodge has grown from strength to strength and is one on the leading lodges in Kavieng, New Ireland Province. The lodge’s vision is to be the choice of clients in tourism and hospitality industry in New Ireland Province, delivering excellent services both domestically and to international visitors. Their mission is to contribute to the development and excellent quality tourism and hospitality services in New Ireland Province and PNG.
Meanwhile Minister Maru said one of Papua New Guinea’s greatest need is to identify the country’s industrious entrepreneurs and Mr and Mrs Merebo are a good example of such entrepreneurs.
Minister Maru said a review was carried out by the Government when it took office in 2012 and it was discovered that 90% of businesses in the country were run by foreigners and only 10% by Papua New Guineans.
“We continue to be spectators and be marginalised on our own land and as a result the O’Neil-Dion Government decided to come up with an SME policy which has been described as the most inclusive, aggressive and comprehensive,” he said.
“This new policy states that “Between now and 2050, Papua New Guineans must take back the economy of the country. Ownership of businesses must go from 10% to 70% by the year 2050.”
Minister Maru said the SME policy has been approved by cabinet and is now locked down and is ready to go into Parliament in its next sitting next year. A new law which will accompany the policy called “Foreign Investment Regulatory Authority Legislation” will also be brought before Parliament.
“Under this new law, the Reserve Business List will be re-introduced in the country. This list will distinguish which businesses will be reserved for Papua New Guineans or for foreigners. Small businesses like guest houses or restaurants must be reserved for Papua New Guineans. Businesses that need K10 million to start will be restricted for Papua New Guineans.
“I call on all leaders and the country to support this new law. We must pass this legislation in order to reserve business incubation space and restrict reserved businesses for Papua New Guineans only.
“The other issue is for the Government to fund the SME sector appropriately. The Malaysian Government gives 19 billion Ringitt to its SME sector annually because their priority is to improve their economy and their people’s standard of living. So the SME policy basically ensures that Papua New Guineans benefit from the wealth of our country and it will also make sure that this wealth does not go out of the country,” he said.
Minister Maru said economic growth is about building opportunities for our children in the future. He said the development of the tourism sector in provinces and the country will obviously create employment opportunities for everyone as well as addressing the problem of rising number of school drop outs.