The Kokoda Tour Operators Association have been invited along with their members to participate in a meeting on the 26th January 2018 with Mr John Pundari, Minister for Environment and Conservation, Mr Emil Tamur, Minister for Culture and Tourism, and Mr Kevin Isifu, Minister for Inter-Governmental Relations.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss potential and desired outcomes from the KTA Review. The Minister is very interested to hear the views of the tour operators as key stakeholders with a special interest in the outcomes of the review, so that he can have more informed and considered views when the review actually commences.
The protection of the Kokoda Track and the promotion of the trekking industry is primarily the responsibility of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), a Special Purposes Authority reporting to the Kokoda and Koiari Local Level Governments. This is an important national and international responsibility.
KTA receives funds from three sources: Government of PNG, Government of Australia and through the collection of fees from trekking permits and tour operator licences.
However, there remains confusion as to KTA’s mandate, accountability, funding and governance. KTA receives no direct ministerial oversight and does not receive any recurrent funding from the PNG Government.
In the KTA Annual Report 2010-14, CEO James Enage called for a review ‘in order to create and endorse… legislation to enable the Kokoda Track Authority to be directly funded (for) its recurrent and program implementation costs …’
In 2015, the Kokoda Initiative Ministerial Committee agreed with the CEO and also called for a review. Then in 2016, the Governor of Northern Province wrote to the Secretary of the Department for Provincial and Local-level Government Affairs (the parent agency for special purpose authorities) also calling for a review of the KTA.
Recently, the Kokoda Tour Operators Association has also called for a full and independent review to ensure the KTA was best positioned to stimulate, support and help grow the trekking industry in PNG.
In August 2017, Environment Minister Hon John Pundari MP, as Chair on the Kokoda Initiative Ministerial Committee, announced a review would be undertaken into the mandate, structure, core activities and accountability of KTA.
The review would establish whether KTA is adequately funded and identify where funding streams should be allocated. The review will also confirm the core functions of KTA and recommend appropriate additional legislation or other arrangements to ensure the sustainability of KTA into the future.
The review will ensure a fully effective and excellent performing KTA, which has a clear mandate, sufficient resourcing, an appropriate governance structure and appropriately skilled staff to carry out its work.
The review of the KTA is an outstanding initiative and will give a clear direction and authority to the KTA to manage and resource the Kokoda Track to the benefits of all Kokoda Stakeholders.