(File Photo)

President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. had signed on April 11 the newly drafted regulations that tour operators must abide to ensure that Palau’s environmental policies are followed.

The Tour Operator Regulations which was drafted by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET) will take effect 30 days after itwas signed by President Tommy Remengesau, Jr.

The regulations were drafted in line with the Responsible Tourism Education Act of 2018 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.

Under the regulation, tour operators are required to acquire a license payable for $150 per year that is renewable every June 30 of the following year.

It also requires that tour operators operating in Palau should make sure that their tour guides are proficient in Palauan and English languages starting January 1, 2020. The regulation also prohibits tour guides, boat operators, owners, tour employees, and their customers from feeding marine life during a commercial tour, among others.

The regulation also enforces that tour operators must make sure that their tour guides brief their customers about environmental policies in Palau before embarking on a tour. It also encourages tour guides to recite the “Palau Pledge” with their customers.

Palau Pledge is the country’s award-winning campaign asking tourists visiting it to promise to protect and respect their home country. The pledge, which is in a form of a short poem, is stamped on a visitor’s passport upon entry to the country.

In an interview, Tourism Director Kevin Mesebuluu said that their office is also currently doing a monitoring framework to measure behavior change among tour operators and tourists.

(By Rhealyn C. Pojas)