CELEBRATING FIVE YEARS OF THE PALAU PLEDGE
Palau celebrates anniversary of the Palau Pledge, by launching Palau Business Pledge, a new initiative to engage local businesses in conserving Palau’s environment and culture
Wednesday 7 December 2022, Koror, Palau
The Palau Legacy Project and the tourism sector in the Republic of Palau, celebrated five years since the Palau Pledge was introduced. This significant milestone was marked by announcing the launch of the Palau Business Pledge, a new certification initiative designed to help businesses comply with Palau’s Responsible Tourism Education Act, while also attracting high-value visitors looking for tourism experiences that prioritize environment and culture.
The Palau Pledge was introduced in December 2017 as a world-first immigration law that requires all visitors to sign a mandatory environmental pledge to Palau’s children that’s stamped into their passport on arrival. The introduction of Palau Pledge made headlines worldwide and inspired a global movement of responsible travel, with other leading destinations such as Hawaii, New Zealand, Big Sur and Finland introducing similar visitor pledges – marking Palau as a tourism trailblazer when it comes to more earth-conscious travel.
The Palau Business Pledge
The Palau Business Pledge is the second phase of the Palau Pledge and has been developed in close collaboration with Palau’s tourism sector. During the break in tourism caused by the pandemic, the Palau Legacy Project team worked closely with tourism businesses to create a framework to assist companies and employees reduce their impact on Palau’s environment and help preserve culture. The new program also empowers businesses to educate their customers about the tenets of the Palau Pledge, to help visitors protect Palau during their stay.
A pilot program with 7 businesses was successful launched and trialled during the pandemic period and is now ready to be rolled out more widely across the tourism sector.
“The Palau Business Pledge will engage local businesses to become key drivers of sustainability in Palau”, said Jennifer Gibbons, co-founder of Palau Pledge and board member of Palau Sports Fishing Association.
“By signing the business pledge and becoming certified, a business will begin a journey to reduce its impact on the environment, lower costs, and attract new eco-minded customers, helping them to grow sustainably”.
To support the achievement of these goals, certified businesses will receive a tailored suite of Palau Pledge materials to help them educate staff and customers on how to keep the pledge. From 7 December, businesses can sign up to the Palau Business Pledge by visiting: palaupledge.com/business.
From Pledge to Progress
In the five years since its inception, the Palau Pledge has had over 735,000 signatories, with recognizable names such as Her Excellency Tsai Ing-Wen, President of the Republic of China, Taiwan, HRH Queen Noor of Jordan, Sir Richard Branson, and Leonardo DiCaprio committing to preserving Palau’s future.
Additionally, the Palau Pledge has continued to foster several innovative new initiatives at a local and international level to assist in furthering the goal of preserving Palau’s future:
Ol’au Palau is a new initiative that gamifies responsible tourism allowing tourists to arrive in Palau as a visitor and leave as friend. Visitors can accumulate points in the Ol’au Palau app by behaving responsibly and taking sustainable actions such as: the use of Palau’s world-first personal carbon calculator, using reef-safe sunscreen, participating in regenerative tourism projects, and avoiding single-use plastics. This responsible behavior will be rewarded by unlocking cultural experiences normally reserved for Palauans and close friends.
Palau Pledge Dive Camp
The Palau Pledge Dive Camp was created to bring opportunity and excitement about protecting Palau’s environment and culture to the young community in Palau. Partnering with Sam’s Tours’ PADI Junior Open Water (JOW) Certification, the Dive Camp is a free experience for young people aged10 -35 years old.The camp aims to spark excitement about the marine ecosystem, nature, and culture, while helping young Palauans consider careers in regenerative tourism. To date, over 100 young people have been certified as PADI JOW divers, learning to become safe and responsible scuba divers, whilst incorporating lessons on Palau’s fragile marine ecosystem, culture and history.
Palau Pledge Educational Outreach Program in Schools
Each year, 16 elementary schools and five high schools are brought on the journey to understand the purpose of Palau Pledge, through a short educational presentation. The goal is to ensure children are reminded of Palau’s traditions and core values to protect the ocean and the land for future generations. The fun educational outreach program helps empower children to know that they are the heart and the future of Palau.
Welcoming Australians to Palau
The local post-Pledge confidence in responsible tourism has ignited the introduction of direct flights from Brisbane to Palau run by Air Niugini. The previously extensive trip would have taken Aussies 18 – 22 hours, travelling on 2 planes; now, visitors can fly directly to Palau from Brisbane significantly reducing travel time and cost.
“Palau Pledge created a monumental shift in the mindset of tourists when it launched in 2017. There is a sense of trust amongst Palauans that visitors to our island have signed up to respecting our environment and culture with the aim of helping preserve our future”, said Alan Marbou, former Speaker of the Koror State Legislature.
“Despite the pandemic, the Palau Pledge has kept Palau top of mind as an aspirational holiday destination over the last few years and has worked closely with local industry to help the country bounce back.”