"Domestic tourism has reduced revenue for many Papua New Guinean tour operators. The costs of operating in PNG has been too expensive for the domestic market, considering the costs of running a tourism operation such as fuel for banana boats, vehicle running costs or food for guest houses.
"Tourism can be quite expensive for domestic tourists," Manning told The National newspaper.
Manning said sadly, many operators had struggled to survive to continue operating, while others were forced to go out of business, given the domestic market had not been able to sustain the cost of operations.
"However, I believe there are some silver linings in the pandemic and are really optimistic about being able to bounce back, but not in the immediate future," he said.
Manning said it would take collective effort to see popular tourism products such as the festivals, Kokoda trail trekking and diving, bounce back by next year, and perhaps a potential boon in 2024, if everyone worked hard.
He said global tourism indications suggested a rise in demand for adventure tourism and soft adventure products.
"Given the restrictions and lockdowns people have faced worldwide, many travellers are looking to re-connect with meaningful trips. Many prospective travellers also have two years of disposable income saved up, so experiential trips are going to be high on the agenda for many tourists," Manning said.
Manning said he believed that cultural tourism would be the big winner for Papua New Guinea and should be a key focus for PNG tourism stakeholders, because people are looking for those meaningful cultural exchanges when they book their first post-pandemic trip.
"We all know that our country has a wide range of cultures, and we are a perfect destination for this tourism market," he said.
South Sea Horizons has been an in-bound tour operator offering small group experiences in PNG since 2007.
The most significant silver lining indicated by Manning is the unity that the industry had shown in working together in collaborations.
"Since the pandemic, there has been a real shift in tourism stakeholder attitudes, with operators working in collaboration, while the entire industry is working together to push the re-bound of tourism in PNG.
"We are certainly enjoying the relationships we are forming and look forward to our journey with our partners, moving forward and out of this pandemic."