Koror, 27 November 2017: Next month the Republic will officially launch the Palau Pledge, a world-first initiative that asks all our visitors to make a promise, directly to the children of Palau, to respect their home before they enter the country.

This is a very important initiative to help our fragile ecosystem and culture survive in the modern world. As a nation of only 20,000 people that sees up to 160,000 visitors per year, we need to send a powerful message to the entire community that protecting Palau is everybody’s job.

But what does the Palau Pledge mean for our tourism industry?

There have been many confusing messages about Palau reported around the world – we have had several natural disasters like Zika, Dengue, the drought, and the affects of climate change on Jellyfish Lake. All these negative messages influence the decision-making process of potential visitors’ who are considering Palau as a holiday destination. If visitors are unsure about what they will find, they will decide to go somewhere else – taking our tourism revenue with them.

Furthermore, there have been reports of overcrowding at our visitor sites and social media coverage of guests harassing wildlife, taking our protected species, destroying our reefs and throwing trash wherever they like.

None of these messages communicate that Palau is a “pristine paradise” and none of them appeal to the kind of high-value guests we want to attract.

The Palau Pledge will do two very important things: it will help protect our precious Tourism Assets – our environment and culture – and at the same time it will provide a much-needed positive news story that demonstrates Palau is still a pristine paradise that is protected by its people and its visitors.

The Pledge will also directly appeal to the kind of visitors that Palau wants to attract – the kind that spend money in local communities and who desire an authentic cultural experience.  These likeminded world travelers can work with us to preserve our environment – so vital to our way of life and to our tourism industry.

The Palau Pledge is the culmination of two years hard work by a dedicated group of volunteers – both Palauan and visitors – working together to communicate Palau’s unique conservation culture to the world. The team is working in close collaboration with Palau Visitors’ Authority; Palau Conservation Society; Office of the President; Bureau of Immigration; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce; Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of State to create the visitor and local campaign surrounding the Palau Pledge.

The Pledge has been given the blessing of the Council of Chiefs and was also presented to Mechesil Belau who gave the project their full support and is a direct outcome of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Policy.

Education and Awareness and Tourism Marketing are two of the six key components of the PNMS. The Palau Pledge has been designed to help support these two important components and provide better outcomes for our precious environment and for our tourism industry.