Call to cancel KTA junket to Brisbane ignored


14 PNG officials flew from Port Moresby to attend the pre-Christmas forum – including a paid consultant to facilitate proceedings.

Only seven (7) of 22 tour operators listed on the KTA website attended – of these only one is legally compliant with the PNG Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) Act.

The KTA engaged a PNG consultant to facilitate the forum.

The Acting CEO of the KTA, Julius Wargari, who has been ‘Acting’ for 5-years, reported that the $464,047 (PNGK1.6 million) collected in ‘trekking fees revenue’ in 2023 was spent administering themselves – but nobody knows where the money goes because he has never published a financial report in the 5-years he has occupied the position!

Mr. Wargirai neglected to explain if any portion of the trek permit fees he has collected were used to fund his international 5-Star forum in preference to supporting his subsistence villagers across the Trail who are still struggling from the economic impact of Covid.

  • Why didn’t he just set up a Zoom meeting?
  • Who paid for the PNG consultant to facilitate the forum?
  • Who paid for the 14 PNG officials to fly to and from Port Moresby to attend the forum in an international hotel?
  • What was the cost of conducting the forum in Brisbane?
  • Why has the he failed to publish any financial reports since he was appointed in 2018?
  • Why did he and/or the DFAT Strategic Advisor donate K350,000 from KTA funds to an Australian NGO which is not associated with Kokoda tourism in 2019?

KTA records distributed at the forum show that 61,690 trekkers have crossed the Trail between 2001-2023.

Assuming that each trekker would invest an average of $1000 (PNGK2500) in trekking gear (boots, clothing and personal gear); $1000 (PNGK2,500) in international airfares; and $4000 (PNGK10,000) to tour operators this would value Kokoda tourism in the region of $370 million (PNGK938 million).

GST revenue for government would therefore be in the region of $37 million (PNGK93.8 million)

KTA records indicate there were 3308 trekkers in 2023 – as a result they would have collected $456,504 (PPNGK1.6 million) from trek permit fees.

This indicates the Kokoda Trail generated $19.8 million (PNGK50 million) in tourism revenue last year – GST revenue for Government would therefore be in the region of $2 million (PNGK5 million).

Mark Nizette advised that legislation to establish a new ‘Kokoda Track Management Authority’ (KTMA) as an environmental body under the Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) ‘will address critical administrative resources shortages, enhance track management outcomes, provide policy direction for the industry and maximise community development gains.’

Nizette also failed to declare he is the proponent of the proposed KTMA Bill – according to metadata within the MS Word document properties relevant to the bill:

  • The author of the ‘Issues Brief KTMA Draft Legislation’ signed by Mr. Julius Wargirai, is ‘Mark Nizette’.
  • The author of the ‘KTMA Bill “Zero Draft” Discussion Paper February 2022’ is ‘Mark Nizette’.
  • The author of the ‘Kokoda Track Management Authority Bill 2021’ is ‘Mark Nizette’.
  • The author of the ‘KTMA Discussion Paper, March 2021’, is ‘Mark Nizette’.

Mark Nizette’s KTMA Bill has all the hallmarks of a bureaucratic trojan horse to take control of Kokoda tourism for the benefit of foreign advisors and consultants.

The Minutes also advised that ‘One trekking company has had its licence suspended for undertaking unpermitted treks during 2023. The issue is under appeal within the PNG judicial system’. They were obviously referring to Adventure Kokoda.

The Minutes, distributed on 7 March 2024, were misleading – they failed to reflect that on 22 November 2023 the PNG National Court found that the decision to cancel Adventure Kokoda tour operators licence was unlawful and ordered the KTA to restore it.

Costs, which will be in the region of K100,000 were awarded to Adventure Kokoda.

Overall. the Minutes covered issues which have been raised ad nauseum on numerous occasions at previous forums over the past decade with no outcomes apart from the enrichment of consultants.

  • Their failure to engage an accredited Heritage Architect to develop a Military Heritage Master Plan for the Kokoda Trail (their current preference of an American anthropologist without any military history or service credentials as Australia’s National Military Heritage Advisor in PNG just doesn’t cut it).
  • Their failure to restore or interpret a single significant battlesite across the Trail despite the fact that the military heritage of the place is the major drawcard for pilgrimage tourism.
  • Their failure to provide a single environmental interpretation sign (common in our National Parks) anywhere across the Trail – trekkers are therefore denied information about one of the most diverse tropical environments in the world.
  • Their failure to identify the indigenous names of all geographic features across the Trail.
  • Their failure to develop a ‘campsite development plan’; a campsite booking system; a ‘trail maintenance plan’; a ‘trek itinerary management plan; a ‘micro-business plan’ for village communities; or a welfare support plan for guides, porters and villagers after 14 years in charge.



The Kokoda Trail: Chronology of Mismanagement 2009-2019

Kokoda: The Enemy Within!

DFATs Environment Bill – A Suicide Note for Kokoda Tourism!

Mark Nizett MBE: Kokoda Advisor or Foreign Influencer?

The Kokoda Tour Operators Association: A Shameless Australian Lobby Group

The Rise, Fall and Future of Kokoda Tourism

2023 KTA International Tour Operators Meeting Minutes