This is one of several challenges taken on by the public service, especially when PNG is now fully aware of the potential that technology can have in driving significant economic growth.
Since the APEC meet last year, all government agencies were challenged to engage with technology and pursue transformation of services.
The PNG immigration and Citizenship Authority has now extended visa facilitation to 20 new tourist markets, who are APEC member countries.
Minister Petrus Thomas said all APEC member states, including Russia, will have access to online visa to visit PNG without having to visit a PNG Embassy or high commission.
“I have also approved expansion to a range of Commonwealth member States from all over the world – including India, South Africa and Cyprus. Through this expansion, PNG and our tourism industry has just been opened to about 3 billion perspective visitors from these 20 countries,” stated the Minister.
To complement the eVisa expansion, ICA has taken even further steps to utilise technology to service its clients better. Minister Thomas said: “Last year we launched the new ICA website www.ICA.gov.pg. This was a bold, fresh look that reflects where ICA's agenda is leading it. In support of today's eVisa expansion, I am pleased to announce that the ICA website is now available in Mandarin Chinese and Bahasa Indonesia – with further language options being made available soon”.
This is the first for any government agency to have a website with language options.
“PNG's eVisa is a world standard traveller facilitation system which allows visa applicants to lodge visa applications at any time and in any location where they have access to the internet.
“In supporting a seamless traveller experience the eVisa also facilitates ICA’s capacity to increase revenue collection for the Government through the user-pays service model.
“Since it was launched a few months ago, eVisa has processed 5,000 applications – that is 5,000 less people waiting to get a visa and 5,000 business people and tourists who have had a seamless, modern application process to visit our country.”
Minister Thomas concluded by saying: “We will continue to announce even further enhancements that will benefit PNG and our citizens. Modernisation through a digital future will bring considerable benefits to our country and I invite other agencies to engage with the Chief Migration Officer and the ICA team, to work collaboratively on digital initiatives and share from our experiences as they too develop modern solutions for PNG.”
(Minister Petrus Thomas)