WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — As some on Maui become overwhelmed by an influx of visitors, the first in a series of sustainable tourism town halls focused on lessons learned at another Pacific tourist hotspot.
Orion Cruz, a Maui attorney who worked with the government of Palau on tourism issues, participated in the virtual panel this week, The Maui News reported Wednesday.
Cruz, a former legal counsel to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism of the Republic of Palau, said the Western Pacific island nation encourages environmentally friendly visitors and enacted measures to ensure sustainability funding.
There is a $100 “Palau Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee” added to every international airline ticket, Cruz said.
“This hundred dollars supports the country in a variety of ways but a substantial portion goes to fund Palau’s protected areas network, which is kind of like their national park system,” Cruz said.
Tourists also sign the “Palau Pledge” and agree to act responsibly both environmentally and culturally.
The virtual panel was hosted by Kelly King, the chairwoman of the Maui County Council’s Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee.
“The community wants action to ensure a future for the visitor industry that protects the people, culture and environment,” King said in a statement.