The robberies prompted Tourist Promotion Authority chief executive officer Peter Vincent to call on the government to curb rising crime, saying it was a poor advertisement for Papua New Guinea.
“Port Moresby’s image already suffers from being labelled as one of the most-dangerous cities in the world,” he said.
“Such criminal attacks only worsen the situation and put back our efforts in trying to improve the image of Port Moresby and PNG generally as a tourist-friendly destination by a further 10 years.”
In one incident, a tourist couple, their guide and a taxi driver were held up at the back gate of parliament last Sunday morning.
All their personal items, including cash, cameras, jackets and passports, were taken by the robbers who escaped in the taxi which was later recovered at the nearby Erima settlement.
In the other incident, another passenger from the same cruise ship, who was part of an organised tour group visiting Koki market, had his camera snatched by an offender who ran off.
Vincent expressed grave concerns for the future of cruise ship visits to Port Moresby and the country.
“Port Moresby and PNG just cannot afford to have criminal elements running around robbing tourists when TPA and its industry partners, including PNG Ports, are putting in a lot of time and resources to develop the cruise tourism sector.”
Vincent called on the national government and law enforcement agencies to seriously address the escalating law and order problems in Port Moresby and nationwide.
Apart from developing a practical cruise tourism strategy for PNG as part of the national tourism master plan 2007-17, TPA had also gone to international conferences to convince major cruise ships to visit PNG.
One more cruise ship, Voyager, will visit Port Moresby later this month and the Amsterdam will stop over in November. Several others will visit Rabaul, Wewak, Madang and Alotau in the coming months.
PNG Ports was also contributing significantly to cruise tourism by developing its port facilities and infrastructure to be “tourist friendly” and had also introduced a scheme for unemployed youths in Port Moresby to be engaged as tour guides.
“A lot of resources are been put in to make the cruise tourism sector work in PNG as it is a lucrative sector and we need the support of all relevant government agencies, other stakeholders and the general public to appreciate and protect such tourism activities for the best overall interests of our country,” Vincent said