The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recommended that Palau develop a hospitality training facility to meet the tourism industry’s demand for trained workers.
In a brief called Tourism as a Driver of Growth in the Pacific released on August 21 stated that a facility could help “maximize local employment in better-paid positions.”
The ADB report cited that Palau’s tourism sector has faced a surge in tourists in the past 10 years, giving credit to the rise of arrivals of visitors from Mainland China.
The brief stated that Palau like several other small island countries need to “develop a skilled Pacific workforce that can respond to future needs of the hospitality, transport, and visitor services sectors, and potentially provide a resource for all Pacific island countries.”
Tourism is the fuel to Palau’s economy, contributing to a big chunk to the gross domestic product (GDP).
In 2017, there were 122,566 arrivals and 138,426 arrivals in 2016. However, the ADB said in the past decade the tourism growth of Palau grew sevenfold primarily fueled by Chinese tourists.
Overall, ADB brief said that there is a growing tourism demand from China with more than 74 million outbound travelers in 2015.
While only 363,000 of these visited the Pacific, this the figure is growing rapidly; between 2012 and 2016 Chinese arrivals grew 59% (to 12,937) in Papua New Guinea (PNG), 53% (to 49,083) in Fiji, and sevenfold (to 64,995) in Palau.
The growth will continue as a recent World Bank report suggested the PRC could provide more than a quarter of all visitors to the Pacific by 2026.
The brief stated although Palau faces the challenge of a population too small to provide enough people trained in the hospitality it could tap into the pool of Pacific Island countries to fill up the positions.
The ADB also reminded the countries that private sector involvement is essential to developing and sustaining competitive tourism destinations.
“Governments alone cannot drive, or fund, tourism sector development, while the private sector needs help navigating regulations and accessing resources—especially land and infrastructure,” the report stated. (Bernadette H. Carreon)