Palau is getting heavy weight support for its tourism promotion through its airport joint-venture partner, SOJITZ. It was announced last week that SOJITZ, with endorsement of Palau Visitors Authority, will meet with six different airlines in Korea this week to promote direct flights to Palau.
Palau’s tourism numbers have been falling since Delta Airlines pulled out of its Japan- Palau route this May. Reduced number of visitors from China due to decline in number of charter flights servicing that destination have added to the crunch.
“Japan and Korea have an open-skies agreement, meaning that both country can increase number of flag carrier flights to each other and the plan is to encourage flights to include Palau such as Korea-Palau- Japan and Japan-Palau-Korea flights, connecting the three destinations,” stated Minister Charles Obichang last week.
Having the backing of SOJITZ in promoting Palau received green light from Palau Visitors Authority, according to PVA Chairman Ngirai Tmetuchl.
“SOJITZ and Haneda have the clout and the resources to talk directly to the major airlines in the region and having them promote Palau is something we could never ever achieve with our resources,” expressed PVA Chairman Ngirai Tmetuchl in phone interview with Island Times.
“SOJITZ have Japan wide reach, not just Tokyo. It also has networks and offices in Korea and Taiwan. We want to build a relationship with that network and this is something that is possible because SOJITZ have the clout in this region” said Tmetuchl.
An MOU for closer collaboration between PVA and SOJITZ is being developed but PVA Chairman assures that the work has already begun.
“We’ve asked SOJITZ to review our marketing plan and budget for Japan and see how they can help us amplify that. For example, our budget for Japan market is $300 thousand compared to Guam with $3 million. They have agreed to have their team look it,” added PVA Chairman.
Last year Palau signed a joint venture agreement with SOJITZ and JATCO to manage Palau airport terminal. In addition, Palau in partnership with the two entities will fund improvement and expansion of the Palau airport terminal. The process for the expansion and improvement is on-going with final design approval in progress. (L.N. Reklai)