Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono said that he will personally ask Japanese airplane companies to consider stepping up their charter flight operations and start direct flights to Palau.

Kono, during his first visit to Palau on August 6, said that he recognized the importance of having direct flights in tourism.

“I saw the nature of Palau with my own eyes today and it is so beautiful, I would like to promote this environment to the Japanese tourists,” Kono said.

In 2018, Palau’s business sector expressed unease over Delta Air Lines’ sudden suspension of direct flights from Japan to Palau. Japan has been one of the key tourist markets of Palau and the cutoff of flight service posed threat to tourist arrivals.

After Delta Air Lines stopped air services to Palau on May 6, 2018, the number of Japanese tourists that visited Palau dropped to over 900 from 2,567 in April 2018 and 1,243 in May 2018.

Based on the statistics from the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA), 657 Japanese tourists visited Palau in June this year with only one Japanese passenger using a charter flight to get to the country. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)