The highlight of the two-day festival was the sacred Fire Dance, unique to the Baining people in Gazelle district.
Gazelle MP Jelta Wong said the Firedance Festival is a Gazelle District tourism development initiative that will generate many economic and socio-economic benefits for the grassroots people within the Gazelle District.
“However, we need to be very careful to protect our unique identity here in the Gazelle District," he stated.
“We need to put some proper protective measures in place."
Wong said through the introduction of responsible tourism practices, the district will ensure that cultural boundaries remain protected and safeguarded from some of the negative impacts of the tourism industry.
“We need to embrace and understand the responsible tourism model and implement safety measures when showcasing our unique cultural performances to visitors from all around the world,” he said.
Wong thanked the IFC for partnering with the Gazelle District by sending two international travel writers to cover this event and helping the district promote this to the international media.
He welcomed agents from Intrepid Travel and Peregrine Adventures to this event and thanked them for believing in the potential of this product and adding the Fire Dance Festival into their brochures for 2020/21. Intrepid Travel and Peregrine Adventures collectively send over 3,000 people a week out of Australia.
One of the Intrepid Travel agents said: “I have travelled all around the world and travel industry has taken me to many places. But this festival is going to be a hard one to beat. I don’t know if there is any way to explain what I saw at the Fire Dance Festival.
“I came here to get out of my comfort zone. When the opportunity to come and witness this festival I didn’t know what to expect but being here has been truly special, the energy, the authenticity and the colours - this has been something I know will attract guests. It’s an excellent experience.”
Meantime, Wong acknowledged tour operator South Sea Horizon for putting in place a successful program with the assistance of anthropologist Dr Jacob Simet, the Baining community and the Gazelle district administration.
The local MP hosted National Planning and Monitoring Minister Sam Basil, ENB Governor Nakikus Konga, Jiwaka Governor Dr William Tongap, Eastern Highlands Governor Peter Numu, Minister for Lands John Rosso, Minister for Citizenship and Immigration Petrus Thomas, Vice-Minister for Finance Joe Sungi and Namatanai MP Walter Schnaubelt at the two-day show at Gaulim ward in the Inland Baining LLG of Gazelle district.
Wong further thanked Prime Minister James Marape for his intervention with projects in the district and acknowledged Minister Basil’s representation at the festival.