Papua New Guinea’s 20202 Visitor Arrival Numbers Lowest in 20 Years.

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The Tourism Promotion Authority 2020 Visitor Arrival Report revealed a massive 82% decrease in visitors to Papua New Guinea.  A total of 39,000 international visitors were recorded in 2020, this was 170,000 less than the 2019 arrival figures.  The 2020 figures are the lowest ever recorded for over two decades.  The cause of this massive decline in Papua New Guinea’s visitor arrivals is a direct result of the COVID-19 global pandemic and its adverse impact on travel.

In April 2020, the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) released an interim COVID-19 Tourism Business Impact Survey.  The findings of the report showed

According to the 2020 Visitor Arrivals Report, Australia remains Papua New Guinea’s largest source market.  In 2019, a total of 103,440 Australians came to PNG, while in 2020 the figures decreased by 86% with only 14,871 Australian visitors. 

Visitors from the Philippines formed the second largest number of international travelers to PNG in 2020, while visitors from China followed in third.  Visitor numbers for the Philippines and China dropped by 71% and 84% respectively. 

The report also reveals visitors’ purpose for coming to Papua New Guinea, these are: employment, business, holiday, visiting friends and family, education, MICE*, sports and others. 

In 2020, Employment was the main purpose of visiting the country encompassing 54% of total visitors, while genuine tourists were a mere 8% of total arrivals. 

Papua New Guinea Holiday Visitor Numbers Drop by 87.5%

Holiday visitors to Papua New Guinea in 2020 totaled 3,399 – an 87.5% decrease from 2019 which recorded 25,199 genuine tourists. 

All tourists arriving in PNG in 2020 were by air.  No cruise visitors were recorded due to the government’s ban on cruise ships entering the nation’s sea ports.

The International Visitor Exit Survey conducted by the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) revealed tourists had spent an estimated 156 million Kina in 2020, this was 560 million Kina less than what was captured in the 2019 survey, which revealed a 715 million Kina expenditure. 

Data from the 2020 International Visitor Exit Survey was obtained by the TPA at the Jackson’s International Airport through volunteered information provided by tourists departing Papua New Guinea. 

In December 2020, the TPA initiated formal discussions on developing a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA).  The TSA will enable the organization to directly measure tourism activity in Papua New Guinea’s economy.  Still in the early stages of development, the TSA will likely come into effect in 2022. 

2021 and Beyond Forecasts: Slow Recovery

The UNWTO reports that the proportion of border-closed destinations has dropped from 82% in late April 2020 to 18% in November 2020.  However, outbound travel and international tourism expenditure is still very weak globally. 

With the availability of vaccines, increasing travel safety measures and quarantine requirements for travelers, there is hope for Papua New Guinea’s tourism industry. 

International visitor arrival numbers are predicted to undergo a slow recovery spanning two to three years – at an average growth rate of 2% annually.  By 2025, Papua New Guinea will regain its pre-COVID-19 pandemic figures of 200,000 visitors, and thus generating 1.6 billion Kina towards the national economy.  

Source : Papua New Guinea, 16th March 2021

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