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10 June 2009
A new Kokoda Track Code of Conduct for tourism operators has been welcomed by the Papua New Guinea and Australian Governments meeting today at the Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum in Brisbane.
"The code is important for setting a benchmark for tourism operators," PNG Culture and Tourism Minister, Hon. Charles Abel said.
"Developed by trek operators with the support of the Kokoda Track Authority, PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, other PNG Government agencies and the Australian Government, it sets the scene for all parties to work together to ensure that the Track becomes a world class tourism destination.
"Trekkers can now choose to travel with an operator who has committed to the standards set out in the Code of Conduct.
"The release of the Code is an excellent outcome for PNG as it will ensure that local communities benefit from trekking along the Track," Mr Abel said.
The Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Hon. Peter Garrett, welcomed the release of the Code, saying it was an important part of protecting the historic Kokoda Track.
"This is a tremendous step towards raising standards along the Track and protecting the Track itself," Mr Garrett said.
"The Track is of great importance to many Australians, and the tourism it attracts is vital to the livelihoods of many local communities.
"The Code will also help protect trekkers along the Track, trekking staff and local PNG communities," Mr Garrett said.
The voluntary Code of Conduct includes a commitment for parties to:
The Code of Conduct will be circulated amongst PNG and Australian tour operators by PNG's Kokoda Track Authority, which will also work in a co-operative manner with trekking companies to encourage self regulation.
The Kokoda Track, which passes through 96 kilometres of the stunningly beautiful and rugged Owen Stanley Ranges, was the site of a bitterly fought World War II campaign. More recently, walking the Track has become a significant tourist attraction, enticing over 5000 visitors annually and injecting approximately $9 million dollars per year into the PNG economy.
The Australia Government has committed $14.9 million to implementation of a Joint Understanding with the Government of Papua New Guinea to protect the Kokoda Track and improve livelihoods in PNG communities.