Palau’s tourism industry recovery is lagging far behind despite being one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate over 95 percent of its adult population.
As of November 30, 2022, Palau has reached 10,559 visitors, 11% of the 2019 pre-covid arrivals.
Minister Ngirai Tmetuchl, Ministry of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism & Development, estimates arrival numbers for 2023 at 44,000 based on the number of flights scheduled this year.
“This is an optimistic projection … and it can change with an increase or reduction in the number of flights,” said Tmetuchl.
President Surangel Whipps Jr. hopes 2023 will be a “much stronger year,” a year of recovery for the tourism industry.
Whipps said Palau is lagging behind in the tourism recovery, but it is blessed to have received commitments from Taiwan with China Airlines and Australia with Air Niugini for flights to Palau. He added that Palau continues to work with Japan and Korea to establish flight links.
Currently, United Airlines flies five days a week with two flights connecting to the Philippines. China Airline have scheduled flights twice a week. Flights connecting Australia to Palau will also be twice-a-week flights.
Late opening and travel restrictions of Palau’s traditional markets, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China, contributed to low visitor numbers.
Meanwhile, the Whipps government is pushing to host more regional conferences and events in Palau this 2023, bringing in conference visitors to fill the gap.