Tourism will continue to be one of the few economically viable sectors providing foreign exchange earnings, employment and income-earning opportunities for several Pacific islands countries, including Palau, according to the recently released Pacific Sustainable Development report.

The report stated that the The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that tourism contributes more than 60 percent to the total GDP of Vanuatu, over 40% to Fiji and more than 30% on average to the Pacific as a whole.

The report stated that in 2013 alone, tourism spending in Pacific Island nations was US$1.4 billion and a   a record 1.37 million overnight visitor \arrivals in 2014 across eleven smaller nations that includes Palau.

But the report however noted that these arrivals fifn necessarily mean more spending and” “due to the ecological sensitivity of PICTs, attracting low-volume, high-yielding tourists is crucial.”

In 2017, World Bank predicted that Vanuatu, Samoa and Palau will be the greatest beneficiaries of the projected tourism boom, followed by Fiji and Tonga.

World Bank last year in its Pacific Possible report highlighted   tourism as the “crucial economic backbone.”

It also noted that Chinese tourism is key to the potential of the tourism growth in Pacific nations and that Pacific nations such as Palau can tap into this potential and just capitalizing on Chinese market, tourism could create 65,000 jobs and boost the Pacific countries economy by more than $1 billion — if crucial infrastructure is created and well maintained.

Tourism is the economic driver of Palau’s economy and tourists from China is now the nation’s top market. (Bernadette H. Carreon)