Palau ministers met with Japan tourism industry leaders last week, seeking to restore the Japanese tourism market. Minister Ngirai Tmetuchl of the Ministry of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism, and Development, along with Minister Charles Obichang of the Public Infrastructure and Industry, met with representatives of Japan Airlines, Skymark, and All Nippon Airways to discuss direct flights between the two countries, according to information from the Office of the President.
The Palau delegation also included Senators Secilil Eldebechel and Flemming Sengebau and Delegates Mengkur Rechelulk and Warren Umetaro. The report said that the congressmen with Palau’s Ambassador Peter Adelbai met with Japan’s tourism giant JTB to discuss the revival of the Japanese tourism market for Palau.
Meetings with airline representatives were positive, according to the report, and discussions continue with the airlines.
Japan was the second largest tourism market for Palau, with over 19,000 visitors in 2019. Three airlines flew directly between Palau and Japan, TWAY, Japan Airlines, and Skymark, before the border closure in 2020.
Since then, none of the flights have resumed, and the only connection to Palau from Japan is through Guam.
In 2017, Palau joined a joint venture with three Japanese corporations, JATCO, SOJITZ, and JOIN, forming Palau International Airport Corporation (PIAC). The joint-venture corporation was to construct, expand and operate Palau International Airport Terminal. The construction began in 2019, and the terminal opened for business officially in 2022.
President Surangel Whipps Jr., during the grand opening of the new airport departure terminal in May this year, urged visiting Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi of Japan to help Palau get the Japanese market sector back.