Tourism Impacts on Indigenous Cultures in Papua New Guinea (PNG): At Time of International Tourism Shocks
The Covid-19 pandemic has crippled the tourism industry with the massive decline in international tourism visitors. As a result, indigenous tourism communities that are heavily dependent on tourism suffer from the loss of economic and social benefits. Swaikoski (2020) believes that the niche tourism market flourished until the coronavirus (Covid-19) caused havoc on participating communities.
The indigenous people in Papua New Guinea are known for their unique cultural knowledge, traditions, customs, beliefs, arts, and mythology. Each tribe contains distinct traditional attires, languages, totems, and rituals, adding uniqueness and importance to the world. Thus, this study acknowledges one of the iconic cultural groups in PNG, the Asaro Mudmen from Komunive village, Eastern Highlands Province. The author evaluates how the absence of tourism during the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the Komunive community, their way of life, resources, and leadership structure. This research explored both positive and negative impacts of tourism on the Komunive community to better understand the community’s views and perspectives about the post-Covid-19 era.
The study employed a qualitative method of research in the form of a single case study approach and administered 17 interviews over one week using online platforms. The sample consists of village and church elders, village councillors, tourism committee members, and tour guides, all from the Komunive community. The indigenous community has never experienced an international tourism shock in the past. Thus, the results indicated more negative impacts experienced during the absence of tourism at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourism was a crucial contributor to the community's pre-Covid-19 era and played a significant role in their community well-being. These include economic, social, environmental, and cultural benefits. However, the absence of tourism has shifted their perspective on how they intend to reengage with tourism when tourists return to PNG. The study further found that the self-determination values of the indigenous community were a more vital link to the shift.
Keywords: Indigenous Tourism, Culture, Tourism, Impacts, Mudmen, Komunive Community, Shocks, Covid-19, Pandemic, Absence of tourism.