Palau President Proposes Banning Budget Travel on Island
There’s no doubt that some islands, especially absolutely gorgeous ones like Palau, have their fair share of tourists. Tourism can be great for a country and great for the economy, but we’ve also seen the negative impact too many tourists can have on precious islands that can’t necessarily take the tourism demand. Well, the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, has proposed a bill that would only allow 5-star resorts and hotels on the island moving forward.
President Remengesau spoke about the bill during a press conference last week, in which he emphasized a “quality rather than quantity” tourism strategy for the island nation. The hope is that this new strategy will ensure the people that travel to Palau are willing to spend money, while at the same time finding investors who would be willing to create their own water systems and build roads, instead of relying on the government to spend its money on that infrastructure. Investors that are willing to foot the bill for such infrastructure, would be rewarded by the government of Palau with tax breaks and other benefits. The president is responding to recent reports on the negative impacts of mass travel.
Chinese tourists are very prevalent on the island, but they rarely spend very much money locally after they arrive. The government in Palau tried to lower Chinese tourism in 2015,
The archipelago is particularly popular with Chinese tourists, who visit on package holidays – but they are notorious for spending little money locally. In an effort to discourage these travellers, the Palau government halved the number of charter flights from China in 2015.
The move appeared to pay off. “While the numbers went down, the actual tourist spending went up,” said Remengesau. “It confirms our direction [to attract] less tourists who spend more which equates to more tax dollars. We [will] go for quality rather than quantity… to create a goal of high-end, high-value tourism.”
This would be a sweeping move for the country, based on its tourism economy. Eight-five percent (85%) of Palau’s GDP comes from tourism. However, there has been recent discussion in the country about the impact mass travel has had on local coral reefs and wildlife, a balance Palau’s president now wants to make a priority.