Papua New Guinea’s rich culture, spectacular scenery and unforgettable World War II history has been attracting visitors from around the world who are keen to connect with this experience.

In 2018, the country welcomed 94,627 visitors who spent $206 million USD – PGK 690 million. Part of this attraction is the legendary Kokoda Track, known as one of the world’s most spectacular and challenging treks. Since 2001 there has been an average of 3,800 trekkers each year tackling the Kokoda track. Tourism and the Kokoda Track boost the local economy, provide opportunities and income for remote communities living along the track, which in turn leads to improved standards of education, health and wellbeing.

There is no question how important tourism is, but what happens when this all suddenly disappears?

The COVID travel lockdown has hit Kokoda Track communities hard. Really hard. The people of the Kokoda Track have lost the income they rely on from trekking groups – porter wages, campsite fees, food and direct sales to trekkers – and with travel restrictions likely to be for as long as a year, we want to promote the fantastic initiatives taking place right now to help ease the hardship of the pandemic.
The PNG and Australian Government have been busy working to promote and provide infrastructure to improve the health and sanitation conditions of more than 5,000 citizens of Central Province through a new agreement with the Kokoda Track Authority.
More than 200 people are set to be employed on projects in the Kokoda Track region, providing vital economic stimulus for local communities. The projects include track maintenance, water security facilities and road maintenance, which are supported by the PNG-Australia Partnership through the Kokoda Initiative.

Track maintenance will be overseen by the Kokoda Track Authority to ensure it continues to be safe for use by local communities and trekkers when the track reopens.

There has also been some great work by locals,  Liz Crothers and Mick OMalley of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA), the PNG and Australian Governments and many others are providing much needed practical assistance to the communities along the Track.

A crowd funding campaign supported by the member companies of KTOA has been reaching out to all past trekkers. They have been seeking donations to go directly to KTOA who will distribute it to the families and communities along the Kokoda Track.

Hear from some of the recipients of the donations:

On the KTOA Facebook page, you can hear from  Jack and Steve who live in villages along the Kokoda Track. They explain the value the donations are delivering to their families and provide their sincere  thanks to everyone who has supported them so far.

An update on the KTOA crowdfunding campaign includes a message from Alice who lives at Brown River, thanking everyone for your donations and support. She was too shy to read it herself so some of the porters from her village helped out.  All donations will go directly to families like Alice’s to use for food or medicine or whatever they most need.

The campaign is looking to reach $15,000 before October and have already reached $12,990.

We know life continues to be hard and there are trekkers and others who want to support the Kokoda villagers in any way they can. This is such a small amount, that even your small donation can quickly help achieve. TRC has a long history working together with local people living along the Kokoda Track. We understand firsthand how important trekker related income is and the massive impact this has had to their livelihoods and general wellbeing. We applaud the Kokoda Track Authority and KTOA for their initiatives, helping villagers get back on their feet so they are ready to welcome trekkers again as soon as it’s safe to do so.

With our contribution, TRC sends their warmest wishes to our friends along the Kokoda Track, we can’t wait to see you all again.

You too can help by visiting: GoFundMe