Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive officer Jerry Agus said during the farewell of outgoing Minister Tobias Kulang and welcome of new Minister Emil Tammur that tourism was never taken as a key economic sector until recently.
Mr Agus said this was because the government has not realised its full potential and has just now captured it in its key documents like the medium term development plan, vision 2050 including the Alotau Accord Two
He highlighted that tourism was on the verge of dying until the country experienced low commodity prices which paved the way for the government to realise its potential after all mining and petroleum activities are gone.
“We see the importance of the tourism sector and the need to develop this sector so that we can support our economy. Unfortunately, tourism over the years has been suffering because poor representation at the floor of parliament and NEC meetings when the agenda of tourism is discussed as we need strong vocal people.
“But we’ve been blessed and I will say that fortunate to have a person like Tobias Kulang who have been very supportive and has helped the industry to gain support from the wider community.
I think one of the notable achievements of our former minister is the unprecedented increase over the last two years in terms of the budget funding to TPA and for the US50 million (K159million) World Bank loan to support tourism promotion in East New Britain and Milne Bay,” he said.
Mr Agus said while they are sad to let Mr Kulang go they are also excited to work with the new minister hails from a province and a district that thrives with tourism.