COVID-19 caused an unprecedented crisis for tourism-dependent Palau, but with international flights and tourists returning, it is on its way to the pre-pandemic levels showing the country’s unique ability to bounce back.
For the month of April, the tourism numbers increased compared to the same month of last year, with more visitors from China and Taiwan after Palau lifted COVID-19-related travel restrictions.
Aiming to build back better from the COVID-19 impacts, the government of Palau has instituted alternative economies to increase resiliency from future economic shocks.
President Surangel Whipps Jr., in his April State of the Republic Address, said his administration is taking steps to diversify the economy and build a stronger economy resilient to challenges.
He said this is through enhancing the local fishing industry by helping locally owned and operated fishing companies build capacity and ensure they are assisted in supplying pelagic fish to the local market.
Whipps also believes in the future of technology with Palau’s Digital Residency Program, which has attracted more than 5000 people since its launching.
The country is also pioneering a Palau stable coin which he believes will be further enhanced with the new fiber optic courtesy of Japan, Australia, and the United States.
Whipps said with the tourism recovery, a number of assistance and programs have been put in place to assist in the sector’s recovery and strengthen it in the long term.
Australian Ambassador Richelle Turner said that the Australian government was “excited to contribute to the country’s tourism diversification, that is through the new service by Air Nuigini, which operate flights every Tuesday from Brisbane to Palau via Port Moresby with the return flight on Wednesday.
Turner said the new route has created “ greater tourism opportunities in Palau and potential investments between Palau and Australia.”
Turner said this during the recent Palau Media Council workshop on reporting on restoring tourism after the Covid-19 crisis.
The council launched the workshop in partnership with the Australian Embassy and the Australian’ government’s Department of Foreign Affairs to help bring the local journalists and communication officers in the country together to encourage participants to report effectively on Palau’s “tourism assets that will attract domestic and international visitors and to disseminate information on the dynamic, sustainable and world-leading diving tourism sector. “
The workshop had lined up speakers from the business sector, such as Palau Chamber of Commerce.
Aside from tourism, the workshop also had representatives from BOFI, the Minister of Finance, and the tax office sharing information with the media on topics such as stablecoin, and tax reform, among others.