Mixed reactions over tourists’ visit

The Costa Atlantica, carrying 1,900 Chinese tourists to Alotau on New Year’s Day, saw mixed reactions among local stakeholders.

The Costa Atlantica left Guangzhou Province, China, on November 27, 2016. It was on a ‘47 Half World Cruise Tour’, with its first PNG port of entry being Alotau for a 14-hour stopover on January 1, 2017.

Tour operator Egwalau Tours and Events’ major concern was that the ship arrived on Milne Bay shores on a public holiday.

Other concerns were:

  • Language differences in translating Mandarin Chinese to English;
  • Lack of transport to move large numbers of tourists;
  • Chinese tourists’ demands to visit as many tour sites as possible; and
  • Lack of money exchange facilities

Another concern was the attendance by key Milne Bay Provincial Government officials to welcome the cruise liner, despite requests made to postpone the arrival due to the public holiday.

However, despite the public holiday, Milne Bay Administrator Michael Kape, and Milne Bay Provincial Government tourism chairman, Napolean Liosi, showed up at the main Alotau Overseas Wharf to welcome the Chinese tourists.

Kape highlighted that since it was a public holiday, there was minimal Milne Bay Provincial Government presence.

Meanwhile, Egwalau Tours and Events co-director, Maxine Nadile, said the tour company responded well to the ship’s concerns as best as it could.

She said the language translation problem was addressed by using local Chinese businessmen who spoke the Mandarin dialect.

Despite all the majors concerns, the tour company managed to pull off this major job of hosting their first-ever international Chinese cruise liner.

Meanwhile, one of the local Chinese businessmen, Jacky Hueng, recruited by the tour company, said that the Chinese wanted to go on many tours as possible but the transport situation let them down.

Overall, the participants agreed that the situation demanded greater support from the Provincial and National Government and greater consultation with major stakeholders like the local tour operators, Milne Bay Tourism Board, transport owners and site owners.

The next challenge for Egwalau Tours and Events would be on January 25, with two cruise liners, the P&O’s Sun Princess and Crystal Symphony, arriving on the same day.

(Costa Atlantica Chinese tourist posing with the Denewa traditional dancers)

Paul Maolai