A bill is being introduced at the Senate to propose the lowering of refunds that Palauans and their spouses will get after paying the $100 Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee (PPEF) to $75.

Senate bill no.10-146, which was introduced by Senator Frank Kyota on February 18, states that it is necessary to reduce the currently fully refundable fee to 75% so that the remaining 25% will be used to aid the Palau Visitors Authority PVA) in its effort to attract more visitors to the country.

“Tourism is integral to our economic health as a nation and the loss felt within the industry has impacted our daily lives. Thus, in order to protect our flagship tourism industry, the Olbiil Era Kelualau believes it is necessary to reduce the refunds currently provided to certain categories of people under the law by 25%,” the bill states.

Under the bill, those who will be entitled to a full refund are pilots and crew members of airlines legally operating, diplomats with diplomatic passports, and transit passengers.

It also recommends to not refund individuals “travelling on behalf of any organization or entity that received funding from the national government in the twelve months preceding the date of travel.”

The PPEF was originally put in place to support the implementation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS), the country’s conservation policy that mandates for the closure of 80% of its waters to commercial fishing and opening only 20% for commercial fishing. There are now moves at the Senate to delay implementation of the marine sanctuary law to accumulate more money that will make up for the loss from closing Palau’s waters to commercial fishing. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)