President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. says he is very optimistic that tourism numbers will rebound in 2019.

At a press interview, Remengesau says that Palau is working with Skymark Airline, a Japanese domestic airline, to fly to Palau.  He says that the airline is waiting for permits from Japan’s end before it can fly to Palau.

China Airlines, an international carrier is currently applying for Japan-Palau route as well, reports Remengesau.  China Airline connects to other international destinations and may be able to fill in the void that was left by Delta Airline.

It was earlier reported that Skymark was flying to CNMI.  According to recent reports, CNMI and Skymark Airline just last week, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly promote flights from Japan to Saipan.  So far no specific dates or schedule has been set due to pending permitting processes.

Plummeting visitor arrival numbers over the past two years have impacted a good number of tourism related businesses. Delta Airline pull out of the Japan-Palau route as well as the continuing decline in number of direct charter flights from China, has had a double impact and businesses are expressing frustrations, especially those directly involved in the tourism industry.

At a recently held Palau-Japan Investment Seminar this week promoting Japanese investments in Palau, local businessmen Alan Seid and Sinji Chibana both questioned why nothing is being done to get direct flights from Japan to Palau.

Local boat owners that financed their tour boats through National Development Bank loans are asking the President to help them talk to the Bank and address their boat loans.  Remengesau at the recent press conference assured that he will be discussing with the Bank ways to assist the local boat owners.

Despite the decline President Remengesau expressed optimism that the on-going negotiations will bear fruit in 2019. “I have no doubt that 2019 will be the year of rebound for tourist arrivals,” assured Remengesau. (L.N. Reklai)