The Tour Operator PNG Experience

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The Tour Operator PNG Experience Powered By Docstoc

Cannibal Tours
 Stakeholder Groups
        RPTS 202
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents ............................................................................................................................ 2

Tourists: Americans ........................................................................................................................ 3

Tourists: Europeans ........................................................................................................................ 9

The Tour Operator: PNG Experience ........................................................................................... 13

Community Members ................................................................................................................... 18

Government: Federal .................................................................................................................... 24

Tourism Consultants ..................................................................................................................... 29
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                                      Tourists: Americans

       Jack is staring into the dark water from his stance on the third deck of the “Darling

Mary”, a river boat steering through the Brown River in Papua New Guinea’s southeastern

rainforest. He is unable to see over rail. This is because Jack is four years old and 3’6”. The black

mesh railings don’t stand out against the dark water. It wouldn’t matter anyway. His stare is

transfixed on a reptilian nose puncturing the water.

       “Mama, look!”

       Jack pointed below. Nancy doesn’t care. This is the fourth caiman Jack has seen in the

past fifteen minutes. Her maternal instincts kick in and she pieces together a response

begetting a four year-old child’s excitement.

       “Whoa! That’s a caiman Jack.”

       Nancy is nearly proud she can still fake excitement about a caiman after so many days

on the river.

       “No mama! An alligator. It’s like Alvin the Alligator from my book,” Jack says


       Nancy knows the conversation is going to be exactly the same as moments ago. She

swears her son has the memory of a goldfish.

       “Yeah, very similar Jack.”

       Nancy is relieved when Harry returns from the restroom. The conversations she had

with Jack was mind-numbing. She spent the past four years sitting at home with him. She is

always glad to have adult company.

       “Honey, are we getting off the boat at the next stop?” Harry asks.
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       “Yeah, we need to get Jack off the boat for a while. And I want to look at the jewelry.”

       “Nancy, again? Can’t we do something else? We just keep shopping in these villages.”

       “Harry, I didn’t come here to get sweaty and tired. I want a vacation. Relax.”

       “Jack, get away from the railing. You’re too close,” Harry states excitedly.

       “Harry, just let him be. There’s a railing. It’s not like he’s gonna’ jump over it. He can’t

jump 4 feet. The top of the railing is higher than his head for god’s sake.”

       Harry relishes the other end of the 25 foot boat. He watches two other families gazing at

the alligator. Johan, a German boy of perhaps four years of age, is pointing toward the caiman’s

nostrils and eyes floating above the dark water. Harry wishes he could join the Europeans for

one of their excursions. The German and Swiss families hike when the boat stops. They swim in

the river. They eat food with the locals. Nancy won’t even let him try the local beer. And

Nancy’s sister’s family is even worse. Cynthia’s two kids and husband Jerry annoyed him. At

least they are below deck. Cynthia is worried the kids might sunburn. Cynthia ran out of

sunscreen on the fourth day of the ten day trek. She had only brought six bottles of sunscreen.

       Harry unfocuses his eyes forward again. In the distance he can make out a manicured

shoreline. The next village is approaching. He glances to the shoreline. It is only another caiman

sunbathing along the bank of the Brown River. It was exhilarating. On the first day of the trip.

Now he wonders if caimans can see underwater. The water is pitch black from where he sits.

       He is unhappy with the “family” part of the “family trip” but enjoys the pristine qualities

the river offers. He was enjoying the “trip”. He wishes there were options for activities though.

Maybe if there were official “activities” his family would be able to do something that

interested him.
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        Before he got married he took trips to exotic locales. Nancy wasn’t into it. This was the

first trip in their six years of marriage that was outside the United States. The trip wasn’t

turning out to be as exciting as he hoped for. He kept being told “NO” by Cynthia and Nancy.

Their always watchful eyes kept him from what they called “fun”, but in a facetious manner.

        “Okay everybody, please listen up,” the speakers boomed. “We are arriving in Wilkila.

This is my hometown village. We will be stay here tonight. We have hotel room for each of us. I

come around with keys in five minutes for everybody, okay?”

        Cot, the tour guide, is beginning to sound like nails on a chalkboard to Harry. The

accents in New Guinean, or whatever they call themselves, is killing the sensitivity in his ears as

they butcher his native language. Harry turns towards Jack’s perch at the front of the boat, but

he is gone. Harry observes a moment of panic. The panic pumps blood quickly through his body.

He turns around only to see Jack talking to Johan, one of the young German boys on the boat.

Jack introduced Johan to Alvin the Alligator on his Nintendo DS a few days ago and the two four

year-olds have been nearly inseparable since.

        Harry stands up and walks toward Jack.

        “Jack, come on, we’re getting off here. Are you ready?” Harry is still managing to

implant excitement into his voice when necessary to make Jack excited to participate in


        “Papa, Johan saw Alvin too!”

        “I know!” Harry swoops Jack into his arms and moved towards Nancy at the front of the

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        “Harry, don’t forget, men’s night out in the village tonight after dinner,” Hans, Johan’s

father, yells after Harry.

        “Definitely Hans, I am looking forward to trying some of that beer ya’ll drink every day!”

Harry is sure he will not be allowed to participate in the debauchery. Nancy won’t stand for it.

She calls it debauchery. He picked the term up from her years ago.

        The boat comes to a jolting halt. Cot lays a wooden plank down so the tourists can get

from the boat to land without stepping in any mud. The plank uselessly sinks into the mud

almost immediately and serves no purpose to the tourists.

        “Don’t forget Harry’s family. Tonight thee locals are having agriculture festival for you.

We eat good food from fire-cook. We watch dance. Maybe dance too. Kay, I get you from hotel

room at seven in the night. See sign?”

        Cot pointed Nancy and Harry towards the sign that advertised their hotel for the night.

The sign was the tallest structure in the village.

        Nancy leads the way down the plank. Harry follows closely with Jack in his arms. Before

they even get to the end of the ten foot plank ten to fifteen locals meet them with out-

stretched hands.


        “You buy. Very cheap. Good cheap.”

        “Take picture I take. Very cheap.”

        Locals hound them even more when they reached the end of the plank. Four year-olds

with mud plastered on their face sell gum. Old women smile, showcasing their toothless gums,

while Nancy and Harry passed their handicraft booths.
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       Some local children play soccer on a field near the boat. They wear tattered shorts and

no shirts or shoes. The buildings immediately surrounding the dock are open air cement

buildings, but seventy-five feet down the dirt road Harry can see the cement buildings giving

way to thatch huts. Harry reaches the large sign written in what Harry thought was beautiful

calligraphy. He follows Nancy, who follows instructions from the New Guinan on the sign. The

sign, which is written in English, shows a New Guinean in white tribal warfare paint pointing the

group towards the “Papuan Spirit House”.

       Walking towards the hotel they pass three bars for locals and one restaurant. They

know the bars are for locals because they are filled with local men wearing no shirts and the

sign on the door reads, “Locals Only”. The Italian food smells good though. This is a stark

contrast to the smells of a village that has no sewage system.

       Harry’s arms are feeling heavy from carrying Jack. Jack’s head rests against Harry’s

bright turquoise Hawaiian shirt. The walk to the Spirit House is longer than anticipated. He

knows PNG Experience, the travel agency, markets the property as a unique nature experience

from the brochure. He is glad porters are bringing all of the luggage.

       Suddenly, out of the weeds on the side of the road, three people run toward Nancy,

Harry, and Jack. They look like kids but everything happens so fast the family can’t even make

out the dark faces beneath the low brimmed hats. The first child takes Nancy’s purse off her

shoulder with one swift jerk of his hand. The third boy flashes a machete. They disappear into

weeds on the opposite side of the road. Everything happens in a flash. Harry doesn’t even have

time to think before it’s over.
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       Nancy turns around and looks at Harry. She breaks into tears almost immediately. Jack

wakes up. He is met by an unfamiliar group hug and Nancy sobbing into Harry’s shirt where

Jack’s head had been resting while he slept.
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                                  Tourists: Europeans
       Hans looks down the plank. He is de-boarding the “Darling Mary”, a beautiful four-story

boat he, his wife Ana, and his four year-old son Johan have been traveling on for the past five

days. Cot, his tour guide, lies a plank of wood down for the tourists to de-board. Hans lets the

American tourists off first. They are always eager to be the first to do things. Always in a rush.

They can’t seem to relax.

       The end of the plank dips into the mud on the bank of the river. Even the mud looks

good to Hans. He’s excited to be in Papua New Guinea. The experience has already been worth

the long trip and thousands of Euros he had to pay. The culture has been amazing, and the

locals don’t care if he takes pictures as long as he gives them a cigarette every once in a while.

       Hans balances on the beam and begins walking down.

       “Johan, isn’t this fun!”

       “Daddy, look!” Johan points toward a four year-old girl with mud smeared on her face.

She is selling gum. Johan is endlessly amused by children his age. Hans doesn’t know what

Johan is pointing at because he is attempting to balance on the plank. Hans safely assumes

Johan is amused by the children though. He always is.

       “This is tough. Ana, we shouldn’t have opened that last bottle of wine.”

       Hans attempts to catch his balance and make his way down the beam. He is too drunk

though. He loses his balance when an older woman with mud smeared on her face knocks him

with her out-stretched arm. She is pandering for change.
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       Hans falls into the soft mud below. His legs are in the cool, tranquil water and his head is

resting in the mud. His face is toward the sky. He is laughing loudly. Ana is laughing too, albeit

in an embarrassed for her husband manner.

       “Daddy!” Johan yells as he jumps into the mud next to his father.

       Cot jumps into action yelling at the pandering women and children to move away from

the man in the mud. He moves away the locals by yelling at them. He then turns his attention

towards the tourists in the mud.

       “Sir, I’m sorry. Let me help you.”

       Hans takes Cot’s hand and pretends he is going to pull him in to the mud. He continues

laughing uncontrollably.

       “Cot, don’t worry. It’s nothing!”

       Hans stands up straight. The mud is above his ankle. He walks waist-deep into the river

and washes the mud from his face and shoulders. He takes off his shirt. It is covered in mud. He

hands his muddy shirt to a young boy standing near him.

       “The shirt’s all yours buddy.”

       The young boy takes his thumb out of his mouth and takes Hans’ shirt.

       Hans picks Johan up with one fell swoop and smiles at Ana.

       “Let me get him Hans. You’re both covered in mud. I feel left out.”

       Hans passes Johan off to Ana.

       “Okay Cot, we’re ready. Where are we headed next?”

       “Mr. Hans, you see that sign? It points to the Spirit House, where we stay tonight.”
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       He takes Johan into his arms with a swift motion. Johan wants to walk though. He puts

Johan down and takes Ana’s hand. They stop at booths where women sell jewelry. They

purchase a necklace without bartering from an elderly woman with a toothless grin and mud

smeared on to her face.

       After a stroll through the village they begin walking toward their hotel, “The Spirit

House”. On the way there Ana notices a bar of locals.

       “Babe, let’s stop for a drink. Doesn’t it look fantastic!”

       “The sign even says they don’t allow tourists,” Hans says with excitement.

       They walk into the bar. There are nine men in the bar and two bartenders. The German

couple can almost pass for locals. Johan and Hans are not wearing shirts. All three of them are

covered in dirt. They are wearing cheap flip-flops.

       Ana knows from the last two towns they stopped in that locals are not always

welcoming at first. She pulls out twenty Euros and hands it to the bartender.

       “A drink for everybody in the bar!” She tells the bartender in her loudest voice.

       “And I’m paying for you to drink too,” she tells the bartender.

       She looks to the men drinking beer in the bar. They raise their glasses in unison,

thanking her for the free forthcoming drinks…

       Three hours later the couple stands up to leave the bar. They are sitting at a table with

fifteen men. The Germans paid for all of the drinks, but the entire tab was under $60 Euros

including tip.

       “We can dress you up. Just like locals. For the party tonight,” one of the locals says.

       “We are working tonight’s tourist event,” the elderly gentleman at the table states.
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       “That sounds great,” Ana says excitedly.

       “Yeah, I’m in too,” chimes in Hans.

       “Johan, you wanna’ play with paint?” one of the locals asks Ana and Hans’ son.

       The most elderly local begins explaining the tradition of white warrior paint to Ana while

Hans and the younger local speak with Johan. Ana is listening, but between his accent and her

drunkenness she is only able to catch bits and pieces of the one-way conversation.

       Before long Ana and Hans are covered in white New Guinean warrior paint, along with

the Swiss couple, who painted themselves as well when the opportunity arose. They are

walking along the main path from the “Spirit House” to the evening’s festivities. The locals had

given them locally produced beer from one of the man’s farms. The night is going well. They are

getting along well with the locals and they have already made friends with people in the

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                      The Tour Operator: PNG Experience
       Brett is looking out his corner office on the fourth story of the Hamti Building. The view

is seemingly spectacular. He works in one of the tallest buildings in Port Moresby. He can make

out the city’s harbor in the distance. When he looks closer at the people beneath him he sees

the truth. More than half of the people below are not wearing shoes. Every once in a while a

shimmer would catch his eye. A gun’s silver barrel reflecting sunlight. Or it could be a cell

phone. Chances are it is a gun. There are more guns than phones in Port Moresby.

       He is reminiscing over the humble beginnings of his multi-million dollar tourism

establishment. Thirty years ago he didn’t have an office. He was a young adventurous traveler

who fell in love with the beauty and culture of Papua New Guinea. He bought one boat from an

Australian and began running tours through Papua New Guinea’s jungled plateau in the

country’s heartland. Now he owns the largest tour company in the country. Things are falling

apart around him though. Apartheid ended. Locals are running their own companies. He is

losing market share at an astounding rate of 1% per month this fiscal year. He lost nearly 10%

market share already in 2008.

       His computer beeps. Another received email. He glances at one of the three computer

screens on his desk. A new booking. He pulls the PNG Experience website up to check which

package had been booked. An English couple booked a three day excursion. He thought to

himself, “Very little profit margin on the short trips.”

       A knock on the door alerted Brett.

       “Yes, come in.”
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       The door opened and Cot, one of his most loyal tour managers, walked in. Cot rarely

worked as a tour guide anymore. He was more valuable an asset in the office. Instead, Cot took

one tour group each month. It ensured consistent contact with the local populations Cot had

become close with. Cot was being groomed for the Vice Presidency position at PNG Experience.

Brett knew it was time to include a local at a high level to stay competitive.

       “Cot, what’s up?”

       “Not a lot sir.”

       Brett motioned Cot to sit in the chair opposite him.

       “So Cot, you just got back from your monthly trip, right?”

       “Yes, and we had a few problems I want to tell you about.”

       Brett motioned Cot to continue with a raise of his eyebrow.

       “One of the guests was robbed. Another guest was pushed into the water by a local

woman looking for money. Things are not like before sir.”

       A silence fell upon the office.

       “Cot, let me show you this.”

       Brett took some financial statements from his desk drawer. He began pointing to line

items on the P&L.

       “See here? Trips are getting shorter. I’m dropping prices on the longer Stars, but the

Dogs are winning out.”

       “What are these highlighted percentages?” Cot asked.

       “Remember, that’s market share. Here look at this.”

       Brett turned to another page in the P&L.
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       “This shows our market share month over month for the past five years.”

       “It’s getting smaller.”

       “Yeah, we’ve been losing a lot of market share. It’s not less tourists coming to PNG. It’s

less tourists coming with us.”


       “Cot, that’s a good question.”

       Brett turned pushes the P&L to a corner of his desk. He takes out a report entitled,


       Brett opens a copy of the report he had prepared for the tourism consultants. The

numbers struck him. He shows the numbers to Cot:

Table 3.2. 2008, Annual Growth
                                                                             Market Share
                                   % of clients         % of Profits
        Country of Origin                                                      Growth
African                                  0.9%              1.1%                 -3.9%
American                                15.8%             15.2%                 -0.5%
Australia                               23.3%             17.4%                 -1.1%
Canadians                                4.1%              3.9%                 -0.4%
Chinese                                  3.1%              4.7%                -12.8%
English                                  8.8%              9.1%                 -0.4%
French                                   5.6%              5.1%                 -9.5%
German                                   6.2%              6.1%                 -7.5%
Japanese                                 8.6%             12.5%                -14.5%
Middle Eastern                           0.8%              1.6%                 1.2%
Portugese                                1.2%              0.8%                 -8.7%
Russian                                  2.7%              2.4%                -18.4%
Spanish                                  1.9%              1.3%                -16.3%
Other/European                           9.9%              8.9%                -22.6%
Other/Asian                              4.1%              6.1%                -21.2%
Other/Latin American                     3.9%              3.8%                -19.8%
TOTAL                                   100.0%            100.0%                -9.7%
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       “This shows our 2008 annual market share loss. The economy tanked around the world,

but we lost almost 10% market share.”

       Cot studies the worksheet for a moment.

       “Especially with groups that didn’t speak English,” Cot says after a moment.

       Brett began printing literature in German, Japanese, Chinese, French, and English. He

hasn’t updated the website with other languages yet, but he is going to. English is, after all, the

official language of Papua New Guinea. Only 60% of the country speaks English though. There

are approximately 1,000 languages spoken throughout Papua New Guinea. Still, more people

than ever are visiting Papua New Guinea in 2009 and his profits are falling!

       Brett had finished a meeting with Tourism Gurus, a tourism consulting firm, moments

ago. He had caved. He agreed to pay $150,000 for a report detailing improvements that could

be made in the company’s structure. Brett was afraid the company would have to be down-

sized to stay profitable. He was already cutting hours for the tour guides. Cot was his highest

paid employee.

       “Sir, we’re losing the most money in Asian countries,” Cot said, but sounded unsure of


       “You’re right. We’re getting killed in that market. I’ll tell you Cot, pages upon pages of

the report all say the same thing. We’re losing more money every month to competition.”

       There was a time when PNG Excursions was the only tour company that took tourists to

the elusive central plateau region of Papua New Guinea. A drop off had been experienced when

new tour agencies opened that visited the region. That was when apartheid ended and the pay-
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offs Brett had been making to corrupt officials were no longer possible. That was years ago

though. This new trend is disturbing Brett because he can’t identify a reason for the problems.

       Another trend that had hurt Brett a few years ago was governmental. PNG Experiences

no longer provided the opportunity to visit all regions of Papua New Guinea, in main part

because Brett aligned with the unpopular central government where the average elected

candidate receives less than 15% of the vote due to the enormous number of political parties.

For example, Bougainville is inaccessible to clients of PNG Experience due to its population's

isolation on an offshore island and its attempts to establish its own government and military,

independent of Port Moresby.

       Tourists feel limited in their experiences according to the surveys. There is a high

demand for the ultimate experience with pristine environments and cultures.
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                                 Community Members
       Hatu can see the boat nearing port. She is prepared. Her grand-daughter Kiti is stationed

near where her nephew Cot would lay the plank for the tourists when he got off the tourist

boat. She smears some mud from the soccer field on Kiti’s face. She always makes more money

when there is mud on her face. Kiti is gripping an arsenal of gum ready to sell the tourists.

       Hatu turns to her sister Margi, Cot’s mother.

       “Here they come Margi.”

       “Yes, and Cot is staying two nights this time.”

       “Good for you. You must miss him when he’s gone so long.”

       “He’s never here anymore. I don’t think his sister and brother even know who he is any

some times.”

       Hatu is eager for the boat to arrive. The boats have been stopping less and less. She

doesn’t make the money she did five years ago. There was a time when she didn’t bother with

the tourists. Now she has few other opportunities for making money. On top of this, her son

Arkana has moved back to the village. He was living in Port Moresby for the past two years but

with no jobs he moved back to the village. Of course, there are no jobs in the village either.

Hatu is left taking care of her two children and her younger son’s daughter Kiti even though her

sons are adults in the village. They haven’t learned any skills like farming, as their father had

before he passed away last year.

       “I still have hope for Arkana Margi. I know he can’t be a tour guide now. But maybe he

can still be a doctor or a lawyer in Moresby one day.”
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       Margi feels bad for her sister. Hatu works hard but her children won’t be tour guides.

They will never make the money Cot makes.

       Hatu looks at the port’s poor infrastructure. It is almost unusable in the rainy season.

She has seen pictures of the port in Moresby. It is beautiful, with cement and walkways.

       The port built up for small tourist boats in the village, but with recent criminal activity,

and some elder leaders harboring a disdain for tourism and the effects they claimed tourism

was having on their community, the community has requested some tour companies no longer

use the port. Only two companies are still using the port and neither one is stopping as often as

they once had. The elders who stopped the boats from coming had no young children left and

they owned farms. They didn’t need the tourists’ money.

       Hatu is lost in thought as the few women, men, and children who had been on the

tourist boat pass her stand with handicrafts and traditional artwork. She gives her toothless

smile to them, but no sales. Nobody even stops. The ship is so empty that there are more

beggars and peddlers than tourists on the boat.

       Another week without sales means she has to send Arkana and Paloti, her younger son,

to a neighboring town for work. She doesn’t know where they get the money or what they do

in the neighboring villages, but they always came back with money for food. She needs the

money to buy food. Most of her handicrafts take a full week to make and she sells it to the

tourists for only $15-$20. She asks for $40, but they always haggle. She is often told by Cot that

in Port Moresby and Australia there is no haggling. The price marked is the price people pay.

But tourists always haggle her. She doesn’t understand why.
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       Every dollar counts though. When her husband was still alive she used the money to buy

goods from tourists. Or she would send money with Cot or Arkana to buy things in Port


       She watches the tourists turn towards the Spirit House. It is the most beautiful building

in the town. It was once the “church”. She was married there thirty years ago. Now tourists

sleep there and locals were not allowed inside unless they work there. Few locals worked there.

The manager was white and the employees were from Port Moresby. One of five security

guards from Port Moresby stood watch at all times.

       “Kiti! Kiti! It’s time to go.”

       “Mama, I’m with Marit,” Kiti boldly stated.

       Hatu turned to Margi, who was waiting for Cot to finish tying the boat up.

       “They don’t respect their elders anymore.”

       “Of course not. They have more money than us.”

       “When we were young nobody had money.”

       “I didn’t know what money was!”

       They shared a laugh.

       Hatu turns her attention towards the soccer field.

       “Arkana, come over here!”

       ‘Mama, we’re almost done!”

       “Arkana, now! We need to move the booth to where the ceremony is tonight.”

       Arkana kicked the soccer ball as hard as he could in anger and ran towards his mother.

       “Arkana, we need to move this.”
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       “Can’t I just finish the game mom?”

       Hatu sighed and kept her eyes trained on Arkana.

       “Okay, but move the table to the ceremony tonight as soon as you’re done, okay?”

       “Did we sell anything today mom?”

       “No, nothing today. You’ll have to work this week and make money with your brother.”

       Hatu turned to go home. She knew Kiti would follow her home. There was no crime in

the town of four hundred and fifty people. The only crime was when tourists were there, and

nobody was going to harm another villager. There were tribal laws against it. Although

cannibalism hasn’t been practiced in more than thirty years there were still harsh penalties,

such as drowning.

       “Hey, look at this hon!”

       Two foreigners, and their son, approached Hatu’s stand. They were covered in mud.

They didn’t look like normal tourists.

       “You like? You should buy. I made it myself at home. It took a long time. Very good


       “Put the necklace on babe,” the white man told the white woman.

       “How much is it?”

       “$35. Handmade,” Hatu replied. She had to start the bargaining high. Tourists always


       “Do you like it?”

       “Yeah, it’s great. What do you think?”

       The woman smirked at the man. Hatu thinks there is a chance of a big sale.
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          “Very beautiful ma’am.”

          “We’ll take it,” the white man says.

          He pulls a men’s wallet out of his female companions’ purse. He thumbs through it and

hands Hatu $30 Euro.

          “That’s, let me do the math, wait,” he says.

          He returns to his wallet and grabs two more Euros.

          “Here, I think this is like $36.”

          “Thank you sir. Thank you very much.” Hatu can’t hide her joy in the sale.

          The young boy waves goodbye to Hatu as he walks away with his parents. Hatu waves

back. Hatu then turned around to the store. She has money now. She can buy food. Then she

would go home herself. She left the table for Ankara to clean up. Nobody would steal from her

in the town.

          When Hatu gets home with Kiti they are both carrying a bag of canned food. They walk

in the front door and Hatu is met by jubilous sons.

          “Mama. Look what one of the tourists dropped!”

          There is a beautiful brown leather bag on the table. Its contents have been spilled out

on the table. There is money. A lot of money. There are cigarettes and make-up. So much

make-up! Hatu can sell it in the community and make a fortune. She won’t have to work for

months. She thinks about how her sons came across the bag, but knows better than to ask.

They need the money more than the rich white people on this boat who don’t even need to


          “Oh my sons! This is wonderful. We need to celebrate. Don’t tell Cot tonight, all right?”
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       They agree. Cot would want to give it back to the tourists. All they need is to keep their

good fortune under wraps for one night. Cot will leave soon and they can do as they like when

he is gone. Cot lost touch with the community. He is a tour guide now.

       “Tonight we all need to go to Margi’s. Cot’s home. She’s cooking. Then we can go to the

tourist ceremony and sell more.”

       Two hours later they begin the seven minute walk from their home to Margi’s on the

other side of town. They hare ad dressed in the only collared shirts and dresses they own. They

always try to put on a good face for Cot. They don’t want him to look down on them. Maybe

one day he will provide a way for them to leave the village.

       On their walk they come across a group of whites on the road. They are leaving the

Spirit House. They are dressed in traditional white tribal warfare paint. They are covered. The

men are not wearing shirts. The women are covered in the paint that the spirits made only for

men. They are laughing at the paint on each other’s bodies and drinking too much. Even their

small young children are wearing the tribal paint.

       “I remember when our men left the Spirit House as the ghost,” Hatu sighed.

       Her boys can feel her disdain. They feel it too. The whites are taking their spiritual past

and making fun of their history.

       “Look, I’m almost naked. No clothes!” Yells one European tourist.

       “Ha, look at the paint chip off my arm!”

       “I’m a…a..GHOST!”

       The only reason Arkana is able to hold back is that he has already taken one of the

white’s money. They might steal his traditions, but he can always steal their money.
                                                                         C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 24

                                  Government: Federal
       “George, sit down. Thank you for coming.”

       “Aah, Mr. President Michael Somare, you know I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to sit

down with you,” George says facetiously in his elegant British accent.

       “George, you’re too kind,” the President quips, replying to George’s tone with a

dissenting tone of his own.

        The President continues, “Ever since our last meeting. When you walked away with a

new enterprise, right?”

       “Aah, Michael, it’s been going well. And you should see the jobs I’m creating in your old

stomping ground.”

       “Good, good, but I don’t see that. This is why I called you here today.”

       George cuts him off, “These things don’t show up overnight.”

       “George, I need to see results.”

       “I have something you should look at Michael. Let me get it out of my briefcase

here…real quick.”

       George begins flipping through paperwork in his briefcase. He finds what he is looking

for and spreads it on the table in front of the President.

       “See here? This is the job creation.” George points to a place on the chart that makes no

sense to Michael.

       “By being the only company allowed to stop at this port we are helping the people.”

       “Really? That’s not what I heard. And you want to grow. Be more monopolistic?”
                                                                            C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 25

       “Michael, this is what it’s going to take. I gave you $30,000 Kina last time. I’m prepared

to give you another $20,000. There are two boats still stopping at the port on the Brown River.

Some tour guide told us he has to. We need him to stop. We have to raise wages in the area.”

       The President is confused. He doesn’t understand George. He rarely does. George gives

him money and he continues granting George what he wants, especially when George tells him

it’s best for the country.

       The President understands he’s a high school drop-out in over his head. He’s become

President with only 11% of the country’s vote. That’s good enough for third place out of

seventeen candidates. Only 14% of the country’s eligible citizens voted. But, with the backing of

the military he was able to continue the democracy the Westerners established in 1973.

       The President needs a break from George before he can continue the conversation. He

hadn’t prepared sufficiently and he doesn’t want to make a mistake. George is still talking. He’s

asking for sole tourist rights to areas closer and closer to the President’s hometown. The

President doesn’t care about giving neighboring tribes’ lands to George. They’re enemies. But

he can’t let George control his homelands unless it is best for families.

       The President reaches under his desk and presses a button causing the phone on his

desk to ring. George is still talking, but he has lost the President dozens of seconds ago.

       He picked up the receiver.


       Nobody answered, but Michael continued the conversation with himself.


       The President implants a worried look on his face.
                                                                        C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 26

       “I see, one moment.”

       The President turns to George.

       “George, I need a moment. Do you mind waiting outside?”

       “No, Michael, of course. Take your time.”

       George is sure to take his briefcase with him. Last time he left the President alone with

his briefcase the President had gone through his paperwork.

       When George reached the door the President yells after him.

       “Close the door!”

       As soon as the door closes the President puts the phone down. He’s glad George forgot

to take the large report he laid across the President’s desk. He turns the report to face him and

begins slowly reading the Executive Summary.

       “The currency in Papua New Guinea is the Kina. $1USD is equivalent to 2.95 Kina. In

2006, the GDP was $15.41 billion ($2700 per capita), with 85% of this being composed of

agriculture. The GNP is $6.9 billion. In 2000, only 7,000 U.S. tourists visited Papua New Guinea.

In 2006, the number of tourists increased by 12% to 77, 486. In 2005, tourism brought in 1.5

billion U.S. dollars to Papua New Guinea.”

       The President is beaming. He knows tourism is a strong industry in the country. It is

especially strong in his homeland. He is continuing the growth by monopolizing areas for

tourism companies. This will lead to higher prices for tourism services. This is money that

tourists will leave in the country. He continues reading.

       “ENVIRONMENT: 90% of Papua New Guinea is covered by rainforests. Hence, there is a

need for environmental conservation. Tourism works two-fold though. First, as an economic
                                                                          C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 27

income generator, and secondly, tourism can harm fragile natural environments unless proper

regulations are instituted. Not enough attention is being provided to cultural protection due to

modernization influences which begin with the central government.”

       The President is not concerned with the environment. He is worried about what the

report seemingly says about his government. This is libelous. Saying anything against his

government can land you in jail. He can’t jail George. George controls the largest tourism

company in the nation and has more power than the President. None the less, something needs

to be done if this information is to be published or seen by locals.

       “Government regulations have changed over the past thirty years in Papua New Guinea

as economics and money have changed the mindset of the people. This is no more evident than

in the issues of land ownership and usage rights. The Papua New Guinean Constitution has

created a system under Preamble 5 in which indigenous groups are self-governing with the

complete ownership of traditional lands. This autonomous system has in turn created a situation

in which villagers are attracted to tourism sites, and there is no legislation in place to prevent

their movement.”

       The President continues beaming with pride. He created Preamble 5. It allows for

indigenous warring factions to strike against each other, without the central government being

responsible. By having to control fewer lands his government is be able to assert more control

over the areas that are not in anarchy.

       “To further complicate matters, there are discrepancies in nation-wide political decision-

making processes. For example, elected incumbents rarely win 15% or more of the popular vote.

Corruption and crime are out of control, causing the United Nations to relegate their status from
                                                                        C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 28

a third world country to a fourth world country. Visitors are urged to stay in compounds and not

leave the compound premises while it is dark. Within Papua New Guinea's twenty provinces

there are 850 languages spoken (1 language for every 7000 people). Each region has their own

ideas about the central government, and they are self-governing within their province. All of this

has culminated in a major problem for Papua New Guinea's central government, not the least of

which is extremely different laws enacted from the different regions of the country, many of

which overlap.”

       The President knows he has to continue controlling the country. Reports like this

reaffirm the necessity to control the media. Perhaps George will pay him to control another

newspaper. He needs a new car for his third wife. He can’t allow anyone else to make decisions.
                                                                           C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 29

                                    Tourism Consultants
         “This country is too hot! And Moresby is ugly. I feel like I’m gonna’ vomit from the

smell. Why would a tourist come here?”

         Mike has no answer for his new peer. He’s wondering the same thing.

         “Chels, I have no idea,” he mumbles due to what he thinks is an oncoming heat stroke.

         They resume to sitting in silence in the back seat of the town car. Chelsea can’t let her

complaints about their consulting assignment go unstated for long though.

         “Look at this thermometer.”

         Mike doesn’t look. He can’t think of one reason to exert the amount of energy a turning

of the head would require. It’s hot. No need to burn calories with exercise.

         “Mike, look!”

         Mike slowly turns his head. The red line stops somewhere between 105 and 110 degrees.

Mike is not surprised. The thought makes him realize he is no longer wiping the beading sweat

from his forehead. It is dripping across his face. He feels a slight sting from the sweat in his eyes.

         “Why don’t you ask him to open the window again? Maybe he learned English in the last

twenty minutes,” Mike condescendingly states while glancing at Chelsea before closing his eyes


         Chelsea gives Mike a dirty look. Mike doesn’t notice. His eyes are already closed. His

head lays back on the headrest.

         Chelsea looks at her hands. She is sweating from the palms of her hands. She isn’t sure

this has ever happened.

         “This isn’t a dry heat. This is dirty heat.”
                                                                           C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 30

       “Chels, I’m sure we’re almost back to the hotel. It’s too dangerous to put the windows

down. Port Moresby isn’t safe for white people like Zimbabwe.”

       “Ha ha. Mike makes a joke.”

       Chelsea glances at the butt of a machine gun sticking out from the front passenger seat.

Their security detail while in the country is “Bob”. His name isn’t really Bob. They couldn’t

figure his name out though. His accent is unintelligible. He never says anything. So she calls him

“Bob”. Then Mike began calling him “Bob”. He just seemed like a “Bob” to her at the time. The

driver is referred to as “Bob” as well. Neither of them speak English without an extreme accent,

so what’s the difference?

       Chelsea begins losing herself even more in heatstroke induced thought. This is her first

consulting job. Mike has been covering the globe consulting with tour operators for three years.

She tries to think about the mission at hand. She has to be responsible and come up with good

ideas so she can prove herself; She reads to herself from a manual, “Responsible cultural

ecotourism operators provide a code of ethics for visitor conduct, how to behave, tipping,

bargaining ethics. So…” She can’t remember to think straight. The heat is too much.

       Chelsea looks at the binder she is holding. It is maroon and says “Tourism S.T.A.R.

Consulting” on the front. She feels the front of the binder. It is plastic. She thinks it would

probably melt right onto her fingers if she touches it for more than a moment. She opens the

binder. At least she can get work done while moving at fifteen miles an hour over gravel roads

that are more often used as a restroom than a road. This makes sense in Papua New Guinea.

There are more people without restroom facilities than there are cars.
                                                                         C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 31

       She thinks about re-reading the assignment. Then she reflects about how cool the job

seemed when she was applying. This was most likely because she still can’t believe she is

consulting for a tourism company in this hell-hole.

       Chelsea outlines the dimpled “PNG Experience” on the 100% bright white unrecycled

paper with her finger. How could a tourism company make enough money to print a seventy-five

page report on paper that costs $.10 per page in a country where the average person makes less

than $350 per year? She does the math. PNG Experience spent $14 printing her and Mike’s


       She turns to a section of the report she wrote 3 weeks ago in the proposal. She reads

silently, “Tourism S.T.A.R. Consulting will assist you with better understanding your current


       She turns to her notes from their meeting from that morning with Brett, the Australian

owner of PNG Experience. She reads the first bullet-point:

      Tension with residents. Why don’t they want PNG Experience stopping at ports along the
       Brown River anymore?

       Chelsea has already solved that one in her mind. In thirty years of tourism operations the

modus operandi had not changed once. This included indigenous relations. Chelsea thinks this is

an easy fix. She would be able to impress Mike. She could recommend the implementation of

eco-tourism practices. Responsible eco-tourism operators provide a code of ethics for visitor

conduct with aspects such as tipping, bargaining, and ethics being covered.

       She flips to the next page to follow up with the bullet-point: “comment cards”. Common

themes throughout the cards included the lack of a true cultural experience, as promised by PNG

Experience, and a deterioration of the local natural habitats. Brett has already given them an

example of a problem he can’t fix: The Papuan Spirit House.
                                                                           C a n n i b a l T o u r s | 32

       Thirty years ago PNG Experience’s lodge “Papuan Spirit House” in the Chimbu Province

of the Highlands region was located sixty kilometers from the closest village. The recent

development of tourism locations encroached upon the Spirit House, which is now located 1.5

kilometers from a tourism and village compound. Bars and lights from the village create noise

and light pollution late into the night on an every evening basis. This reduces the hiking and

pristine habitat experience for tourists searching for such things. This is Brett’s thought, but it

seems to make sense.

       Chelsea turns to the back of her binder. The section is entitled “Government”. This is

where Tourism S.T.A.R. Consulting has their work cut out for them. Chelsea has printed the CIA

Factbook page. Skimming the country’s information depresses her. There are significant

governmental issues, especially between the regional and central governments. Corruption is

unchecked. According to statistics crime is rampant, unemployment is 70% in Port Moresby and

55% in the indigenous communities, and more than 1,200 tribes speak 800 languages throughout

the country. Port Moresby is ranked the world’s most unlivable city. There is no saving grace.

       Chelsea knows the tourists are creating larger than sustainable ecological imprints on the

culture and natural habitats, but the money they import to the country is necessary for the people

to subsist. Within regional areas there are disconnects between the young generations and the

culture of the indigenous people. Chelsea only has to deal with PNG Experience though. She

can’t fix the whole country.

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