Taiwan Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu at the Republic of China-Taiwan Embassy in Koror, Palau during his visit on August 22.

Visiting Taiwan Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu said that the Taiwan government is now working on increasing flights to Palau to five times a week next year in its move to help safeguard the tourism industry of its allies in the Pacific region.

Wu, who is currently in Palau to attend the state funeral of the former President Thomas Remengesau, Sr on Friday, August 23, said that the ultimate goal of Taiwan’s government is to further increase the flights from Taiwan to Palau to have steady flow of tourists to the island nation.

Taiwan’s flag carrier, the China Airlines, used to just fly two times a week to Palau in 2018 but had increased its service to three times per week by the end of last year and eventually four times a week this year after Palau had suffered a drastic decline of tourist arrivals due to what is seen by analysts as Beijing weaponizing tourism against Taiwan allies.

Wu also noted that due to ease of transport, Japanese and European tourists are now flying via Taiwan when going to Palau.

Aside from that, Wu also revealed that the Taiwan government is also talking with the Japanese authorities if they could resume flights to Palau again. There is currently no regular direct flight from Japan to Palau after Delta Airlines cut off its Japan-Palau route in 2018. There are, however, some charter flights from Japan to Palau scheduled this month.

“This is what we have in mind and we hope that Palau can count on the tourists from the like-minded countries to continue to stay prosperous,” Wu said.

The Palau Visitors Authority’s (PVA) recent statistics shows only 7,084 tourists visiting Palau in July 2019 which is lower compared to the 9,009 tourist arrivals of the same month last year.

The July 2019 tourist arrivals however is shows increase when compared to the June arrivals this year of only 6,107 tourists. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)