With over 800 languages, a population exceeding seven million people, and five per cent of the world’s biodiversity, Papua New Guinea has long fascinated travellers as one of the world’s most culturally and geographically diverse destinations.
The land of the unexpected reopened international borders in February this year and has gradually loosened COVID-19-related travel rules, including vaccine test entry requirements and mandatory masking in all airports.
Now authorities aim to also turn around restrictions on 60-day tourist visas, which are currently suspended.
“Obtaining a tourist visa remains a challenge for bona fide tourists as the 60-day tourist visa on arrival is no longer available,” the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority confirmed.
“The PNGTPA will be working closely with the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority to reinstate the tourist visa-on-arrival facility to encourage international travellers to visit Papua New Guinea.
“Meanwhile, tour operators and agents must continue to comply with PNGICA requirements and apply online for their client’s tourist visas using the Immigration Authority’s website portal.”
As a cultural, diving and adventure destination, there’s plenty of spread for active travellers and content creators, and signature experiences like the wartime Kokoda Trail and Port Moresby Nature Park, a sanctuary for native animals including the national mascot, Bird of Paradise.
The world’s second largest island offers a rich variation of geography and living cultures and with some 80 percent of residents based rurally, traditional social structures and customary laws are strongly retained.
In its capital Port Moresby, 5-star resorts and MICE facilities are often utilised by business travellers affiliated to the country’s extensive mining and petroleum industries.
The pluses though have often been outshone by headlines on tribal wars, civil unrest, and controversial politics, and PNG has reported far fewer visitor arrivals compared to other, and much smaller, Pacific destinations.
From February to August this year, its post-pandemic figures cited 37,537 visitor arrivals and only 2,182 of these were on holiday.
Destinations like Lae are on the rebound and recently hosted the Morobe Show, a vibrant annual fest of agriculture, horticultural and cultural activities that will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year.