By IVAN POMALEU
Investment Promotion Authority
The issue of having foreign companies operating as tour operators in the country has been described as complex and “does not have a clear cut business operation”.
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Being such, the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA), has been focusing its effort on marketing and promoting the destination than regulating the industry.
The PNGTPA in acknowledging the need to enforce industry standards has stated that though there are laws relating to foreigners doing business in PNG and the need to get foreign company certification, work permits and pay tax to the government, it is quite difficult to enforce them given that PNG’s tourism industry is at its infant stage and a lot of work needs to be done in terms of regulation and enforcement.
The Authority said that foreign tour operators visit the country on adhoc basis with varying number of days in PNG, furthermore complicates the monitoring of tour leaders or tour operators coming to PNG with their tourists.
The TPA has now taken a step in regulating the industry by developing the Tour Operators Code of Conduct for all operators in PNG and abroad.
This will be the building block to launch into regulating the industry.
This will mean that tour operators will be expected to comply with the necessary rules and regulations of the Government of PNG before doing business in PNG.
The PNGTPA has pledged to work with other government agencies such as Investment Promotion Authority of Papua New Guinea (IPAPNG), the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) and the Department of Labour and Immigration and the industry members both domestic and foreign to address the issue without causing any inconvenience for both the operators and the tourists within the short term.
Meanwhile, the Investment Promotion Act states that any one off or an isolated business transaction by a foreign company that is concluded within a period of less than 31 days does not require the company to be certified by IPA to carry on business in an activity in the country.
However, where the business is undertaken repeatedly over time, then that foreign company is deemed to be carrying on business in PNG and is required to be certified by IPA to operate in that business activity in the country.