As Palau prepares to receive its first tourism flight in over a year on April 1, the Bureau of Tourism (BOT) has said that 86 tourism-related entities have been certified to receive visitors coming in from Taiwan on the travel bubble.
Taiwan news outlets have reported that travel agencies in Taiwan are receiving lists of hotels, restaurants, and tour operators which are considered “safe” to accommodate tourists, and according to the National Tourism Regulations for Palau only companies which have received “Pandemic Safety” certifications from BOT can host visitors from the outside, by law.
Mr. Fabian Iyar of BOT says that, out of close to 180 companies which attended trainings for the certification in late February, 86 have so far been certified, with the first certifications having been given on March 5. This includes 23 accommodations, including all of the “major” hotels in Palau, with Sea Passion Hotel being the first to be certified, followed by Palau Central Hotel, West Plaza Lebuu Street, Palau Royal Resort (PRR), and Palau Pacific Resort (PPR). This also includes 24 restaurants, 16 tour operators, 18 boat companies (with altogether 63 boats), and three liveaboards, including the Palau Aggressor II, the Rock Island Aggressor, and the Ocean Hunter.
Koror State has also been certified, including the Rangers and conservation officers who manage tourism destination sites.
Mr. Iyar says that the BOT is working on scheduling another week of trainings for those companies which missed the February trainings, and that attention will be given to the States, most of which have yet to be certified, and are nevertheless responsible for managing tourism sites in their states.
While so far the pandemic certification requirement only applies to tourism-related sectors, the BOT is looking at ways to conduct similar trainings for retail markets, which Mr. Iyar said visitors on the bubble are also likely to want to visit.
While the regulations for certification require companies to meet a certain sanitation and safety standard, they also require companies to have plans in place to implement measures such as social distancing should a positive COVID case be imported into Palau. While the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said that, statistically, only one in every 40,000 flights from Taiwan will be a carrier of COVID, it has also assured the public that measures are in place to isolate and treat anyone detected with COVID-19, should the need arise.
While the MOH has said that the President is ready to declare a state of emergency should a COVID case be detected in Palau, it is ultimately up to the President whether detection of a positive case will mean another national lockdown.
Meanwhile, the MOH has been targeting non-government frontliners, in places such as the customer service industry, with vaccinations. The MOH reported that, as of yesterday, 8,768 first doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered, and 5,199 have received their second dose, meaning that 29 percent of Palau’s population is fully vaccinated.

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