The aerial view of Palau's famous group of islands. (Screenshot of Battle Trip episode 150)

As predicted with the suspension of direct flights from China, Macao, and Hong Kong and the spread of COVID-19 across the world, a number of visitors to Palau for the month of February and up to March 23, dropped drastically.

Based on the latest visitor arrival report from Palau Visitors Authority, the number of arrivals dropped by 42% in February.  From March 1 to the 23rd, the number of arrivals dropped by 70.9%.  With United Airlines flights cut only once a week and with only one remaining JAL charter, this number for March may further drop to near 90% by end of March.

This March, Japan is the lead market with 1,166 visitors followed by South Korea with 488.  Compared with 2019 for the same month, Japan had 2,437 while South Korea had 1,092.  This month the overall number for all markets is 2,643.

It is clear that the travel market continues to tighten as countries around the region begin to implement lockdown policies to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We can expect the economic impact to continue into next year as the travelers from other countries will take some time to recover as well before they travel out again,” stated Minister Sadang of the Ministry of Finance on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on tourism.

Palau government is expecting a $30 million-dollar loss in revenue this year due to loss of tourism revenue and related income. (L.N. Reklai)