Palau Visitors Authority Chairman of the Board Ngiraibelas Tmetuchl during the Senate’s first session of the year at the Senate Chamber.

Palau Visitors Authority Chairman of the Board Ngiraibelas Tmetuchl, who was the guest speaker during the Senate’s first session of the year on January 8, revealed several plans to further development of the tourism industry this year.

Tmetuchl, in his speech, said that the PVA is already in discussion with the newly elected Angaur Governor to build campsites in the state and help residents turn their homes into airbnb’s.

There is also a plan to develop a high school tour guide program with the Modekngei High School, Tmetuchl shared, citing the importance of producing graduates that are adept with the Palauan language, have understanding of Palauan culture, and knowledgeable about the country’s sceneries, plants, fauna, and animals, among others.

“We believe that authenticity and quality is the future of tourism. We are also developing a model where Palauans participate and benefit directly from tourism,” Tmetuchl said.

The PVA chairman also shared the efforts that had already been started by the agency last year such as the launching of the One Stop Shop Program where tourists can experience the local culture. The program also encourages tourists to visit all states, hence, fostering inclusive development. The states of Airai and Ngarchelong were already on-board in the program last year with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PVA.

Among the initiatives shared by the chairman were the coral and clam replanting program with Koror State and Palau International Coral Reef Center at Clam City, installation of safety rails and sidewalks at Todai Lookout in Ngarchelong, partnering with Ebiil Society, Palau Legacy Project, Palau National Marine Sanctuary, Protected Areas Network (PAN), and Koror State to support and participate in trades shows in the United States and Asia, and partnering with international organizations.

Tmetuchl also shared about the promotion of tourism in the international scene which included sports tourism, negotiations for establishment of direct flights to Palau, increasing online marketing strategies, and participating in travel shows. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)