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Prepared by Kelvin Templeton
Purpose and vision
This paper outlines the background to the Kokoda Track Foundation request for seed
funding to allow the completion of a strategic plan to grow both eco-tourism and
historical based tourism along the Kokoda Track. The Kokoda Foundation has a
vision of the Kokoda Track eventually becoming a destination for young Australians
like visiting Galipolli is today. A "right of passage" that connects young Australians
with their past and provides a gateway for tourism into PNG.
The Kokoda Track Foundation
The Kokoda Track Foundation was formed in 2002 (see
www.kokodatrackfoundation.org). It's charter is to extend the hand of friendship to
Papua New Guineans along the Kokoda track, whose forefathers played such a
pivotal role in helping Australian troops stop the rapid Japanese advance across the
Owen Stanley range to Port Moresby. Papuan natives carried vital supplies of food
and ammunition and assisted our wounded soldiers back along the track. One of
these soldiers, Sapper Bert Beros, wrote a poem, which immortalised them as "fuzzy
The need for sustainable economic activity in PNG
The social and economic issues facing South Pacific countries has recently been
highlighted by reports completed by the Centre for Independent Studies and the
Menzies Research Centre.
The commitment of Australian peace keeping troops to the Solomon's has also
served to demonstrate how the problems faced by South Pacific countries may
increasingly become the concern of the Australian Government.
Papua New Guinea is our nearest South Pacific neighbour, with a population
projected to reach 10 million in 2025. The local PNG economy is stagnating, with
economic and social infrastructure rapidly deteriorating or collapsing. The public
sector, funded by external aid, employs as many people as the private sector.
Private, non-mining employment has in fact declined by 1% since 1996.
The IMF's newly published report on the PNG economy found PNG's real per capita
GDP to be 10% lower than at the time of it's independence in 1975.Moreover, the
pace of decline has rapidly accelerated since 2002.
The report also noted that the key social indicators, including life expectancy, infant
mortality, maternal mortality, child malnutrition and adult literacy are among the worst
in the region.
The future for PNG looks bleak, as population growth meets declining job
The Government of PNG has acknowledged that it needs to develop local industry to
provide employment opportunities for its people. The Government has targeted eco-
tourism as one major area with potential for growth.
Aim of the Foundation
The Foundation wants to help the local Kioari and Orokavean people develop the
capacity to be actively involved in sustainable tourism at the community level which
captures the captures the great potential of the Kokoda track to bring tourists to PNG.
.The Foundation believes The Kokoda Track can become a model for sustainable
economic activity based around history and eco-tourism. The aim of the Foundation
is to help create a tourism model for the Kokoda track that may be applied later to
other areas of PNG.
Challenges countries has recently been
There are many practical barriers to overcome before the Kokoda track could
achieve it's tourism potential.
PNG overall has a very negative external image due to coverage of violence in Port
Moresby and in the Highlands.
The education level of local villagers along the track is often rudimentary and does
not prepare them for playing a role in the tourism industry. This suggests one of the
earliest needs priorities will be to select primary school students with ability and fund
their education at a regional high school to improve their capacity to work in the
There is a lack of even basic primary health care in the villages so diseases go
untreated. There is concern here, as in other areas of PNG, of the growing danger of
AIDS and the lack of strategies to combat it. Local areas of historical significance to
visitors are overgrown and unidentified.
All of the above highlights the need for a comprehensive plan to deal with the many
issues involved in creating a vibrant and sustainable tourism industry along the
Although the Foundation has only recently been constituted, it has already
successfully lobbied the government of PNG to proclaim the Kokoda track as a
National Memorial Park.This was seen to be an early imperative to provide protection
for the natural environment along the track.
An initial draft plan has been put forward by the foundation to the PNG Government
with suggestions on the physical infrastructure required to ensure trekkers can
traverse the track safely and gain the most from the experience in educative and
The Foundation has also successfully lobbied the premier of NSW to include a
compulsory component on the history of Kokoda to all NSW High School students
In meetings with key Ministers in PNG, the high priority of the PNG Government to
grow tourism has been outlined and the desire of the Kokoda Foundation to assist
the government with this objective has been conveyed.
Detailed discussions, facilitated through the High commission in PNG have been held
with local landowners that have expressed their strong interest in growing tourism
along the track.
A significant number of people of influence have completed the Kokoda trek over
recent times, who are prepared to provide advice and input to help formulate a plan
for the track.
The Kokoda Track Foundation is seeking initial seed funding to allow for the
development of an initial tourism development plan.
This plan will cover the following:
Market research and product development based around the various tourism
segments appropriate to the track.
Identification of infrastructure needs such as transportation (roads, paths etc)
lodgings (private, information (signposting, centres, commemorative sites).
Identification of needs in terms of basic education and vocational training in
Advice on how local villages can set up organisations (Co-operatives etc.)
Recommendations on vocational training for other related components of the
tourism industry in PNG.
Identification of possible sources of funds to implement initiatives.
Recommendations on appropriate staged process to implement an eco-tourism
strategy for the Kokoda Track.
This report will be completed in consultation with the Orokaivean and Kioari people
who have expressed a strong desire to promote tourism along the Track.