November 15, 2016 (Koror) Mass tourism is not a phenomenon unique to Palau and there are successful lessons on reducing it and mitigating it that can be learned from countries similar to Palau in attractions as well as challenges as reported by Palau Visitors Authority Managing Director Nanae Singeo during the presentation to members of the Belau Tourism Association on Tuesday.
Mrs. Singeo presented challenges experienced by Barcelona, Spain. The city of Barcelona with 39 square miles and 1.7 million residents experienced in a 10 year time a huge tourism boom with numbers of tourists annually now at 10 million, or 10 times larger than the current population. With only 39 square miles, the population density is at about 30,000 people per square mile.
The city reports displacement of residents due to dramatic increase in housing costs, quality of life for residents highly degraded due to high influx of visitors, historical and cultural sites overrun by too many tourists and other similar complains that Palau is currently experiencing.
The city also reports growing dissatisfaction and resentment of the visitors by the local residents. Like Palau, the city is struggling to find solutions after the fact.
Another contrasting report by Mrs. Singeo shows a country of Iceland, with also small population, out of way destination, with mostly natural beauty and assets as its main attractions, developing a quality tourism product that fully incorporate its residents as full stakeholders of the tourism industry and seek to guarantee quality experience of visitors through variety of positive and proactive policies and management plans.
The message relayed to the tourism stakeholders and operators at the meeting by Nanae Singeo is the importance of management plans.
“Palau is not yet, there, as far as the damage goes. But if we are not careful and only wish for one sided story, it could do the same,” stated Mrs. Singeo, PVA Managing Director. [/restrict]