The Palau Visitor’s Authority (PVA) will lobby the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) to double its budget to ramp up its tourism marketing strategy and drive up inward tourism to the country.

Ngiraiblas Tmetuchl told the local media here on Tuesday that in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget process, PVA will request a budget of $3.1 million, doubling their current budget of $1.5 million.

Tmetuchl said an increase of more inbound tourism in Palau could be achieved by boosting advertising spending, investing in new tourism attractions and diversifying the country’s tourism product.

PVA, he said, is aiming to boost tourism numbers to at least 140,000 to 150,000 a year.

“We are proposing a budget this year of $3.1 million, that’s double of what we got this year. But we feel to sufficiently entice more tourists to come, our target is to hit about 140,000 to 150,000 tourists, to sufficiently do that we need about $3 million,” Tmetuchl stated.

“We feel if we have a budget increase we can hit those targets,” Tmetuchl said.

One area that PVA is targeting is drawing more tourists from Japan. He said the tourism body, with more funding, could increase advertising campaign in Japan.

Japan is the second biggest tourism market on Palau and is considered one of the highest-spending travelers.

Tmetuchl said with PVA’s current budget, $300,000 is spent on the Japanese market through direct advertisements and travel shows.

He said a boost in the funding would also help development to be spread around other states to upgrade the existing facilities and cultural attractions.

Tmetuchl said the additional funding would allow PVA to assist State governors to enhance their local products and tourism infrastructure.

Although Palau is more known for its underwater wonders, Tmetuchl said the country has other attractions that are not water-based. Palau he said can also expand its market to nature lovers, culture and heritage tourists.

He said the states of Airai, Ngardmau, and Ngarchelong are keen to also improve its tourism attractions with the help of the PVA.

Tmetuchl said the funding could also create more destinations videos about Palau and digital advertising campaigns.

PVA, he said is hopeful that the lawmakers would support an increase in funding.

Tmetuchl said creating content for advertising and distribution of these campaigns it is not cheap.

He said he is hoping OEK will see that investing in tourism would create a payback into the economy.

Tourism is Palau’s economic driver; it has a high ratio of tourism receipts to the gross domestic product (GDP). (Bernadette H. Carreon)