Switched companies after lapse in contact


In September ’05, my traveling companion, Lynn Drake, and I, contacted PNG Holidays and arranged to take an 11-day “Goroka Festival” tour in Papua New Guinea a year later, Sept. 11-21, 2006. Including three internal flights in PNG, the cost was to have been $3,100 for each of us.

In late November ’05 we sent PNG Holidays $1,200 each as a deposit to secure flights and lodging. Soon after, we were notified that the monies were received. In late February we wanted confirmation of our hotel in Goroka and e-mailed PNG Holidays. A staffer asked us to send our itinerary, and then the silence began. For a time we received no responses to our e-mails.

In late April, on a referral from Air Niugini in Australia, we contacted Kerry Byrd (in Los Angeles; 949/752-5440), the U.S. representative for Air Niugini, Airlink (the airline we were supposed to use) and PNG Tourism, Inc., and found that none of our air arrangements in PNG had been made. I also called the Coral group, which represented three of the hotels on our itinerary, and found there were no reservations in our names. I later contacted New Guinea Expeditions (www.newguineaexpeditions.com), with whom we ultimately made arrangements to visit PNG, and they called the hotels and confirmed what I had found.

In late April Mr. Byrd referred us to Peter Vincent, Chief Executive Officer at the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority in Port Moresby, NCD, Papua New Guinea (visit www.pngtourism.org.pg). Mr. Vincent finally tracked down Benjamin Nikints, owner of PNG Holidays. It appears he was studying in Australia.

In early May, Mr. Nikints finally sent an e-mail to me outlining our account and stating that all of the land arrangements had been confirmed but the domestic flights had not.

In May, we arranged to visit PNG in September with New Guinea Expeditions and informed Mr. Nikints that we expected a refund of our $2,400 deposit by the end of the month. He replied that he would probably have our money back to us by the middle of June.

We are still waiting.

LILLIE ECHEVARRIA
Livermore, CA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Mr. Nikints at PNG Holidays (at Kagamugua Pulimb Rd., Box 460, Mt. Hagen, Western Highlands Province, PNG. . . and at P.O. Box 1299, Mt. Hagen, WHP, PNG) as well as at PNG Festivals (Warogoi St., Unitech, Box 274, Eriku 412, Morobe Province, PNG) and received no reply.

As of Nov. 26, 2006, having returned from their trip to Papua New Guinea with an alternate company, Lillie and Lynn had received no refund from PNG Holidays and are pursuing their options with local authorities.