Tourism

Can Manus island go from detention centre to tourism hot spot?

The Australian government is funding a study to help develop tourism on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The island, which was previously used by the government to detain asylum seekers, is still home to around 600 refugees and asylum seekers.

Four asylum seekers have died on the island, with two more deaths in Australia after contracting fatal illness on the island, reports the ABC, and many more have been victim to violent assaults including at the hands of the PNG police and Defence forces.

The treatment of asylum seekers on the island has prompted condemnation from branches of the UN, reports SBS.

The study is being conducted through aid contractor Abt Associates and will review the tourism industry on the island, aiming to identify “strengths, weaknesses and area of growth”.

The contractor is advertising for a six-month advisor role which will pay around $146,000 plus allowances, reports the ABC.

The advisor will be in charge of producing a 12-year tourism plan as well as collating a database of the natural and man-made sites on the island and advertise them on a new promotional website.

The island’s government had requested Australia’s help in boosting tourism, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to help generate jobs and economic growth.

Manus has only two hotels, with one currently used to house guards for the asylum seeker accommodation that replaced the detention centre, the ABC said.

The chief executive of PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority Jerry Agus, said the island has great potential for tourism.

“It’s not about what you hear about and what you read in the papers.” he told the ABC.

“One of the greatest areas of strength they have in terms of tourism is diving, surfing is one of them, and there’s a lot war relics in Manus Island as well.”

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