Merzban Majoo is a senior vice president of BLS International Group, one of the world's leading brands in government to citizen services and is present in 61 countries. He said PNG's dynamic cultures, festivals, exotic flora and fauna easily make PNG a tourism goldmine.
BLS International is a trusted partner of most European Governments. In 2016 the organisation was decreed by the Spanish Government to set up and operate Visa Application Centres on their behalf in 55 countries. It has similar arrangements with Russia, China, India and Morocco. These countries have since seen a jump of over 25 per cent in in-bound tourist visitors.
Joanna Agnieszka Mazumdar, regional head-sales, said the opportunities from India are great if PNG can target India's 22 million travellors annually. These travellers are families, honeymooners, those travelling for meetings, incentives, conferences and events, and even schools.
"Up to thirty thousand weddings happen in one day in India. And many of India's exposed travellers are tired of going to Europe and America. They are looking for new destinations for honeymoon and vacation," Ms Mazumdar said.
According to BLS International Services, currently India's outbound tourists are ranked 25 in the world in terms of spending. This is equal to US$1,500, compared to the US$700 spent by US tourists and US$500 spent by UK tourists.
It is also predicted that India's outbound tourism spending habits as well as a growing middle class will see their ranking climb to be 5th in the world by 2022.
BLS International Services are interested to take discussions forwards and assist PNG increase destination awareness, have e-visa platforms and solutions and provide more efficient models of verifications services for travel documents, among many other government to Citizen Services.
It was also acknowledged that high commissions and embassies play a critical role in tourism promotion.
Head of the PNG Delegation and the Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Richard Maru, said such services will be crucial for PNG, especially come 2018 when it will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit for the forum of 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
A proposal by BLS International Services will be submitted to the Government of PNG to provide services to assist PNG improve its efficiency in providing visa applications from all over the globe and also assist PNG to promote and drive the inbound tourism trade.
A representative from the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority said currently 2,000 tourists visit PNG annually.
Half of that number are for business purposes.
(The PNG delegation in India)