Nearly 18 months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Palau’s tourism industry remains nearly at standstill, as many of its source markets continue to suffer the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latest visitor arrival statistics shows 97% decline over 2020, and 2020 was not a good year with annual arrivals at 81% below 2019.

Attempts to revive tourism through travel bubble with Taiwan barely survived 2 months before Taiwan succumbed to a wave of infections. 

Nearly all of Palau’s tourism source markets have very low vaccination rates and the with virulent delta strain of COVID-19, nearly all of them have resumed lockdowns and travel restrictions, further affecting Palau’s tourism recovery plans.

Palau’s race to vaccinate over 80% of its population, to reach herd immunity is one solution to re-opening Palau to visitors, dubbed by President Surangel Whipps Jr.  “opening with care”. 

As of June, only 82 visitors arrived and these were mostly from the United States coming through Guam.  This number does not include returning or visiting Palauans.  Palau opened its doors to vaccinated travel with only one exception, unvaccinated minors.  All travelers though must submit negative test results 72 hours prior to boarding.

Minister Charles Obichang of MPII reported at last press conference that they are working with United Airlines to try and increase number of flights per week. 

With Taiwan’s cases dropping, talks of re-opening travel bubble is back on the table.  In the meantime, Palau is not counting on revenue from tourism to buoy the national budget for FY 2022.

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