Koror, Palau— 11/13/2020 — The 4th Annual Small Business Forum conducted by the Palau Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was held at the Antelope Room at West Plaza Lebuu Street on Thursday, November 12, 2020. The two main panels for this year’s forum included Access to Credit and Restarting Palau’s Tourism. The annual forum had a great turnout with over 55 participants from the public and private sector attending.
Palau SBDC wishes to extend its thanks to all the panelist who presented great information and discussions during the annual forum. Businesses and prospective entrepreneurs learned about opportunities for credit and valuable credit information from Bank of Guam’s Koror Branch manager, Mr. Brandon Cruz, and NDBP’s senior commercial lending officer, Mr. Harley Fletcher. One of the key takeaways from this panel was recordkeeping and regular reporting is essential for business owners/manager to understand cost structure and manage cashflow in order for the business to succeed. Cash flow management is crucial during these times when Palau’s economy is severely affected by the global coronavirus pandemic and closure of our borders to protect the health of the community.
During the second panel, Restarting Palau’s Tourism, the Ministry of Health provided important updates and insights to their plans on maintaining the safety and health of the community and residents. Palau has been undeniably blessed to stay free from coronavirus, but our economy suffers just the same as the other countries in the region and the world. Though our safety did come at the expense of our local economy, we still get to enjoy events such as this forum with a lot more freedom—without mandatory physical distancing or wearing of a face mask. The Bureau of Aviation provided updates on upcoming flights and details on the proposed Essential Air Services (EAS). Which could mean Palau could see the re-opening of our borders soon, but does answer how many travelers would still be willing to do so in light of the quarantine requirements. Which by the way, is not limited only to Palau, because the Republic of China-Taiwan also requires a mandatory 7-day quarantine of in-bound travelers from covid-free Palau.
But while businesses wait for our borders to re-open, there is still much work that can be done. Representatives from the Quad-Org.—Bureau of Tourism (MNRET), Palau Visitors Authority, Palau Chamber of Commerce, and Belau Tourism Association—outlined plans for a new certification for businesses that want to continue to provide services in the tourism industry, particularly accommodations and tour operations. This new certification will be based on the upcoming regulations and the Restart Tourism Toolkit, and done in partnership with Palau Community College’s Continuing Education and Palau SBDC. PVA continues to work with partners and stakeholders in the tourism industry to create awareness about our Pristine Paradise Palau through regular beach clean-ups, visiting Alii Pass partners to create marketing contents, and even helping individual business improve their marketing. There was even an opportunity to share best business practices during the forum, by highlighting what IMPAC Tours is doing to promote Palau and the work that is being done to assure guest safety through implementing preventive measures needed when our borders re-open for guests.
Last but not least, Palau SBDC wants to thank all the participants that did register for the 4th Annual Small Business Forum and allowed to accommodate those that joined to fill the room with great conversations and shared positive recommendations to help improve our business community. To learn more about training events and other programs contact your local SBDC at 587-6004 or visit us online at www.pacificsbdc.com/events.