President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. signed into law the bill that requires vessels or aircrafts entering Palau to educate their passengers on the country’s environmental protection polices and also encourage tour operators to provide environmentally responsible options for tourists.

The Responsible Tourism Education Act of 2018, which was signed by Remengesau during the leadership meeting last week, has underscored five important points.

In his transmittal letter to the Congress, Remengesau enumerated the five main points of the law which include the amendment to Section 1009 IN 10 PNC 13 to indicate on Palau’s official passport stamp a space for visitors to acknowledge the cultural and environmental policies of the country, mandating vessels and aircrafts entering the country to help raise the visitors’ awareness in Palau’s environmental policies through different medium, requiring tour operators to provide tourists with environment-friendly options while rendering their services, prohibition of the manufacture or sale of reef-toxic sunscreens, and authorizing the Palau Visitors Authority (PVA)to design a rating system or accreditation for tourism or visitor-oriented businesses that commit and contribute to Palau’s protection and preservation of the environment.

“Tourism is a vital industry for our Republic, and it is essential that incoming visitors be made aware, immediately upon entry, of what is expected of them,” Remengesau expressed in the transmittal letter.

Under the newly signed law, conditions for the issuance of entry permits for vessels or aircrafts now include the requirement to assist Palau in informing passengers about environmental policies of the country through distribution of literature and playing video, among others.

Skin-care products containing oxybenzone, octylmethoxycinnamate, octocrylene, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor, triclosan, methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, benzyl paraben or penoxyethanol, and other prohibited chemicals are also not allowed to be sold, brought or manufactured in the country staring January 1, 2020.

A penalty of not more than $1,000 per violation also awaits those who will be found violating the law by selling, offering for sale, or distributing sunscreens containing the prohibited chemicals. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)