Tourists arrive at Palau Pacific Resort dock. (File Photo)

The Bureau of Tourism plans to set up six regulations by the January which will organize the tourism industry and will potentially increase tourism keeping the environment intact.

Director of Tourism Kevin Mesebeluu has proposed six regulations which circle around Tour Operators, Boaters Association, Sun Block, Accommodation, Natural/ Eco Tourism Guide Certification and Transportation.

Mesebeluu said, “One of the main efforts is tourism mobility, getting tourists to experience other outline states and not just limit them to rock island southern lagoon.”

Mesebeluu hinted that public transportation like buses will be used to facilitate tourists to be dropped at the desired sites. There will also helicopter tours facilitated for the tourists.

“We are thinking about a more grab or uber kind of facility where a person can even do a rideshare for boats and not just cabs,” Mesebeluu said.

He clarified that regulations that will govern the industry like grab or uber will be in place by next year and added that once the regulations are in place the facility can be provided.

In terms of accommodation, Bureau of Tourism intends to survey Airbnb facilities and make sure the accommodation is decent and in livable standards.

Mesebeluu said, “We have had reports about people being fraud and we don’t want that by the time of Our Oceans Conference. Once the AirBnB facilities are surveyed, it will be given to PVA to market out. “

An MOU has been signed with Sasakawa peace foundation which is a parent company of JICA to develop an eco-tourism that doesn’t rely on infrastructure but existing sites.

Mesebeluu has recently requested funding to develop baseline survey to understand the current usage of sun blocks and start education, awareness campaign specifically to make tour operators understand the environmental damage caused.

Mesebeluu also said that the tour operators need to be standardized in terms of consistency in safety that includes environmental responsibility as well.

It is already mandatory that tour operators provide insurance to the customers and every tour operator needs to register with Bureau of Tourism.

“Because these didn’t exist before, we want to make sure that everyone is aware of it before we start enforcing. Enforcing and compliance comes after education and awareness,” Mesebeluu added.

Mesebeluu expressed that one of the biggest challenges that the Bureau of tourism faces is tour operators not registering with department.

The registration requires a $150 fee and Mesebeluu said that 30-30 have been registered but over 100 tour operators haven’t been registered yet.

However, the law doesn’t require the businesses to pay a penalty if not registered.

Mesebeluu said that some of the tour guides or operators from different markets have been bending rules by using money.

“It is illegal to feed marine life, you cannot touch marine life or feed them. We have had reports that some people would pay extra money to local guides to harvest the clams or go to sites that are not allowed,” Mesebeluu said.

The Bureau of Tourism is a secretariat to the Boaters Association through which the boat owners can report to the Bureau of Tourism if certain rules or law are violated and Bureau of Tourism can penalize the establishments that violate the norms. (Eshan Kalyanikar)