By: L.N. Reklai
With tourist arrivals dropping below 2016 and 2015 numbers, Senate Tourism Committee met with leaders of tourism industry and key government agencies to address concerns raised by members of congress and business community.
Senator Reklai, Chairman of the Senate Tourism Committee, asked the industry leaders of their take on the reduced numbers and what is being done to reverse the trend.
“We have recommended to the President to remove the moratorium but before we do that we need to have regulations in place to regulate airlines to ensure that locals benefit from the influx of tourists,” stated Kaleb Udui Jr., of Palau Chamber of Commerce. Adding that there are many factors to the declining number of visitors and not just the reduced number of charter flights.
Peter Polloi of the MPIIC denied the rumors of pending new charter airline applications. According to Polloi, the moratorium is still in effect.
Mr. Kaleb Udui Jr. clarified that the support of the moratorium of charter flights by Palau Chamber of Commerce, Belau Tourism Association and Palau Visitors Authority among others, was based on thorough assessment of tourism studies documents such as JICA report and others that discussed the very issues raised when Palau experienced sudden influx of one market source and the recommendations provided by experts.
Palau Visitors Authority discussed the marketing proposals on the table as well as on-going activities targeted at certain markets.
“To reach that high value customer that we want, we need resources, expertise and access,” emphasized Ngirai Tmetuchl, Chairman of Palau Visitors Authority. Adding, “OEK has provided us funding to develop a much better website.”
Lesson learned is that without clearly stated public tourism policy that guide regulations and actions of stakeholders and agencies, removing the moratorium does not guarantee that Palauans reap better benefits from tourism. [/restrict]