AUSTRALIA’S Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells believes the Alotau Milne Bay area has a bright tourism future after a recent visit to the Province.

The Minister met with Alotau Member and Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Charles Abel to discuss tourism and the economic partnership between the two countries and visit development projects in the province.

“Alotau is a spectacular location and it is understandable why tourism has been such a growth industry here. Australia is pleased to partner with Papua New Guinea to support this growing sector,” Ms Fierravanti-Wells said.

The Australian Government through private sector engagement has a Memorandum of Understanding with Carnival Australia to leverage development associated with cruise tourism while providing employment and skills development for Papua New Guineans.

A recent assessment of the initiative found that in 2015, tourists on cruise ships that visited Alotau, Trobriand Islands, Doini Island and Rabaul, invested approximately K13 million (AUD$5.9 million) in Papua New Guinea.

The Minister visited Bubuleta Community Health Post which is providing quality maternal and child health services in the community.

This is the first of 32 community health posts built throughout the country under the Rural Primary Health Service Delivery Project. The project is funded by Australia, Papua New Guinea and Japan, the Asian Development Bank, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the World Health Organisation.

Australia provided approximately K127.1 million (AUD$53.7 million) to the project.

Ms Fierravanti-Wells met Australian obstetrician, Dr Barry Kirby whose Safe Motherhood Intervention Project and flying doctor service provides maternal health training and support for pregnant women in remote areas. The Australian High Commission provided approximately K378, 000 to support the project.

The Minister also met with members of the Milne Bay Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee. “We recognise that one of the best ways to achieve stronger communities, societies and economies is to provide opportunities for women and girls,” Ms Fierravanti-Wells said.

Through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative, Australia is providing approximately K137 million to increase women’s participation in decision making, increase economic opportunities and strengthening the response to family sexual violence in Papua New Guinea.

“These projects are positively impacting the quality of health services that are provided to the people of Milne Bay. I commend the leadership of Milne Bay Province on this success and I am pleased that Australia has been able to partner with Papua New Guinea to contribute to these achievements,” she said.

The Minister inspected roadworks along the East Cape Road, a joint project funded by the World Bank and Australia in partnership with the Papua New Guinea Government.

Australia has committed approximately K23 million to support the World Bank’s overall road maintenance program in PNG, including in Milne Bay.

“Transport infrastructure promotes economic growth and improves access to essential services in health and education. In Milne Bay this support will help boost tourism and in getting goods to domestic and international markets.

This is part of Australia’s ongoing investment in economic infrastructure throughout Papua New Guinea,” Ms Fierravanti-Wells said.

The Minister’s visit also included a tour of Massim Museum and Cultural Centre which houses exhibitions on Milne Bay history, carving, weaving, contemporary art and community photography.