This morning, yes when I was watching morning tv (am now back at home and without a television, so will go back to serious highbrow reading habits; tomorrow it is Henry James over breakfast), I saw an older ad which made me pause. It is for PNG tourism, and this time the quality was pretty good; it was the message that surprised. “Make visitors feel welcome!” a voice-over intoned as a mixed-race couple waited at a hotel reception desk. “Give them a smile!” I’d seen it before but today its emphasis struck me: the tourism industry’s intent here is not on selling PNG to tourists, but on selling tourists to Papua New Guineans.
Stranger-danger attitudes are common – less about whiteskins (everyone knows they’re strange, and they are) than about people from other districts and provinces. It’s not easy travelling here, but with a bit of work from both sides – tourists and locals – it is rewarding and surprising, and often unique.
(And this picture is not really related, other than that it depicts objects that might sell to tourists: beautiful green beetles threaded on to wires over a metre long. Why and what for and from where, I don’t know; but they look cool.)