ALMOST 100 men have graduated as tourism police officers at Gembogl Station in Papua New Guinea’s Simbu Province.

The graduation coincided with the launch of the Kundiawa Gembogl District Five Year Development Plan 2013 – 2017.

The tourism police officers concept was a sponsored initiative by Kundiawa Gembogl MP Tobias Kulang to help combat the law and order issues in his district and encourage tourism in the area.

The two-week training program involved both physical and theoretical instruction on how to give tourists information on law, customs, culture and attractions in the local community.

As part of the training, the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) conducted a workshop that highlighted the benefits of tourism, and the law and order issues that affect tourism in communities and in PNG as a whole.

The 92 tourism police officers will be posted at every five kilometres along the length of the roads that exist in the Kundiawa Gembogl District.

A crowd of 5,000 people were present to see the plan officially launched by Parliamentary Speaker the Honourable Theo Zurenouc MP.

The district plan captures tourism as a sustainable economic activity, emphasising the attraction of the province’s landmark Mt Wilhelm – the highest mountain in PNG and the Pacific at 4,509 metres high.

The area is popular with trekkers, with job opportunities as guides existing for locals.

Ascent and descent of the mountain can take up to 24 hours, with most climbers making the journey before dawn, allowing for a better chance of clear weather.

This year PNG TPA will partner with the Kundiawa Gembogl District, the Simbu Provincial Government and the Department of Environment and Conservation to develop an integrated tourism development plan for Mt Wilhelm.