Stakeholders tapped to put together a tourism action plan strongly advocated for a policy of  high-value, low volume tourism and discourage mass tourism.

According to the 45-page draft Palau Responsible Tourism Policy Framework, the strategy will serve as a five-year guidance for the country’s tourism industry. {restrict]

The framework also recommended that the policy focus   towards delivering the “Pristine, Paradise Palau experience”

.The draft also recommended that a  National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), which will include representation from key government ministries, states, private sector organizations, and NGOs, especially those in the environmental sector be established.

The  NCTB’s role, according to the draft  is to  provide leadership and policy guidance to the  implementation of the framework.

The framework recommends that tourism policy revolves around a “high value, low volume tourism, which is defined a “strategy that is characterized by smaller- and medium-scale operations emphasizing local and authentic experiences. High-value tourism has a higher per-visitor expenditure yet its market volatility and  environmental/cultural impacts are lower.

The framework will also establish carrying capacity guidelines, to encourage quality rather than numbers when dealing with tourists.  It also encourages policy towards responsible tourism practices, where environment protection remains a priority.

Tourism is Palau’s highest revenue contributor, but the recent surge of mass tourism impacted Palau’s limited infrastructure and contributed to overcrowding in dive sites and beaches.

The plan was put together with a $500,000 grant from United States  Department of Interior, requested by the Office of the President for the Bureau of Tourism.

The draft framework also mentioned attracting  foreign investments to establishing high –end accommodations which President Remengesau had put into motion with a proposed legislation submitted before the Palau Congress last week.

Segments of the plan were contracted out to various companies while the President put a committee together from various stakeholders to work with Bureau of Tourism (BOT) to finalize the plan.

The policy framework requires adoption by President Remengesau and endorsement of Congress.

In 2016, tourism arrivals dropped by 15 percent but the market is still dominated by the Chinese market which comes to Palau in packaged tours. The president however said while the numbers went down, tourism spending went up. [restrict]