Amid the tourism downturn, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said there is no need to worry about the economy, as he remains optimistic about growth in 2019.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the president said took a positive spin on the dip in the tourism arrivals for 2018 saying its in manageable and sustainable levels.
Remengesau said the government has anticipated the drop in the tourism numbers to ensure that it remain within the carrying capacity and not overwhelm the country’s infrastructure.
Palau’s tourism arrivals is projected to reach around 105,000 to 107,000 in 2018, the same volume of tourists the island nation is receiving prior to the surge of visitors in 2015.Last year Palau had 122,566
The projected 2018 arrivals will be the lowest since 2012.
In 2013 Palau hit 108,250 but since then the numbers have gone up with a particularly high volume in 2015 with 163,905 tourists. A year after the government cut the charter flight in half to prevent the industry from relying on one market-China.
Despite the tourism decline, Remenegsau is upbeat about the recovery of the arrivals in 2019 with completion of important infrastructure projects such as the sewer, water line and new hotel developments.
He said the surge in 2015 was impacting not only the environment but the basic services in Palau such as water and sewer.
“The whole government, we have made a commitment to go towards quality tourism rather quantity tourism, by cutting the charter flights, this was a blessing in disguise because the data is showing that the policy is working,” Remengesau told reporters.
He stressed that tourism arrivals might be down but tourists that have been visiting the island nations are high-spending travelers.
He said 2019 will be a year of growth and more infrastructure projects are expected next year.
In 2015, tourist arrivals from Mainland China in 2015 and has been steadily decreasing since that high water mark.
The president said the policy would also focus more on diversifying the products targeting eco-based, cultural, sports, and wedding and honeymoon markets.
The tourism decline has also given Palau the opportunity for Palau to “reset” the country’s tourism industry.
Remengesau said it is essential that Palau’s takes control of managing its resources and develop it to the benefit of the Palauan people.
He said that because the government has projected the drop in tourism and tourism-related revenues it was able to operate conservatively, avoiding a budget deficit. (Bernadette H. Carreon)