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    G'day smile.gif,

    I'm a Year 12 student at Golden Grove High School and I'm currently undergoing my major assessment for the year, an Investigative Report on a topic of my choice. What I've chosen to focus on is; "Is the sustainability of the Kokoda Trail being threatened by the continued influx of visitors to the area?" I'm researching three key aspects which are: Visitation, Tourism Impacts (economical, environmental, etc.) and Current Sustainability Strategies/Future Plans.

    I've found it quite difficult to acquire data on one specific focus area, which is visitation. I was wondering if anyone on this forum had any stastistics on the number of walkers who undergo the walk each year. And if you could also add your own opinions on what you think about the current sustainability of the Kokoda Trail, and whether you believe it is a good form of sustainable tourism.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.




    It sounds like a good project to work on so good luck with it.

    Have a look at other forum topics on this site for the number of walkers. They keep exact numbers of how many permits are issued = number of trekkers on the track each month. I believe Gail (who runs this site and owns and runs Kokoda Trekking/ Orohaven Resort from PNG) may be able to help you out with this. Last time I saw number of trekkers was in a newsletter on this forum site and it lists number of trekkers each month going back 10 years if I remember right.

    Sustainable tourism is always a tricky subject. If something becomes too popular and "touristy" it risks being spoilt in my opinion. Not enough tourists and you risk a degradation in services,etc and a further downturn in tourist numbers.

    I think you need to look at why people walk the track in the 1st place. This varies from honouring a family member who served in PNG, wanting to honour those who fought for our country, walking in a beautiful country on what is regarded as the 3rd most challenging trek in the world, wanting to challenge yourself, walking for a charity group,etc The reasons vary but they all lead us to being a "tourist" on the track. I walked the track last year with a group from the Adelaide Crows including Roo and Bassett (being from Golden Grove you should know them!) so I had a number of motivations. We were raising money, challenging ourselves mentally and physically and emotionally and also hanging out with our football idols.

    You really have to walk the track and experience PNG 1st hand to realise that trekkers play a vital role in the PNG economy. Firstly the trekking companies employ young men from the villages along/near the track to carry food, equipment and trekkers (heavy) backpacks. The money they receive for this is sometimes the only money their family (and sometimes whole village) receives so it supports a large group of people. Secondly the villages trekkers pass through are supported by the trekker buying much appreciated bananas, cans of coke,etc so more money flows into the villages. Thirdly huts are built in villages along the track that the trekking companies pay for trekkers to use. So no trekkers – no money for either of these factors.

    Next you need to look at the facilities and services set up to support trekkers along the track. Sanitation, communication and other facilities have been painstakingly built to support trekkers along the track. These also benefit the villagers so it is a win-win situation to keep these maintained. But it is still a delicate balance about how far do you develope these facilities. Build a "bitumen" pathway for trekkers to walk on and the whole experience gets spoilt (and wouldnt last a week anyway in the wet season)

    Without the trekkers the men employed by the trekking company would have little to do and fall into the sort of lifestyle of those in Port Moresby and kokoda village. Alcohol and drugs are an unfortunate distraction in these places. So the social impact of cash flowing in from the trekkers also plays a part.

    Also trekkers support the Port Moresby economy by staying in (over priced!!) hotels before and after their treks. Hotel, cleaning, security staff are employed by these hotels so more money flows into family groups. Not many trekkers stay on for a longer stay in Port Moresby as it tends to be a little "seedy" unfrotunately.

    Hope some of this helps Jason. I do believe trekking the kokoda track is a good form of sustainable "tourism" and I hope it grows in a managed way so the experience is not spoilt. If you get the chance to walk the track you won't regret it – it really is an experience of your lifetime.

    Cheers Shane


    I agree completely Shane, good post.

    I'd add that the track is rampant jungle for the most part and far more at the mercy of the elements than a bunch of boots. You hack a sapling down and another springs up almost overnight. Rain teems down washing away boot prints.

    Of course, there would be a critical mass of visitors the facilities could cater for, but as long as infastructure keeps pace, there's more of a risk to the track if people don't go and the track's significance is lost.

    It has to be economically viable for PNG to maintain the track. The visitors, by spending money, provide that viability and protection to the track against miners and other industry in a far more effective way than pollies shouting about it's significance from Australia.

    It's all well and good to look at the impact of visitors going to the track – but it has to be equally weighed against the impact of visitors not going to the track.



    Great contributions from Shane and Rocky which I support.

    A source of information worthy of a look is the website of Kododa Track Foundation. http://www.kokodatrackfoundation.org

    Good luck with your project.

    Geoff Hardie


    Wow, a great thanks to all three of you who took the time to respond.

    Shane; a very detailed response, greatly appreciated. I hope to one day soon walk the Track for myself, it's been something I've wanted to do for many years.

    Rocky; that's exactly what I'm planning on doing. The reason I picked this topic is because I knew there would be points either side of the "argument" which would allow me plenty to discuss. From the research I've conducted I greatly see the importance of tourists to Kokoda, especially as the PNG Tourism Inudstry is relatively undeveloped. The influx of money would greatly benefit the host community residents.

    Geoff; Thanks heaps for the link, useful information.

    Thanks again guys, I really appreciate all the effort you put in to helping me out.



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