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.
According to Palau Visitor’s Authority (PVA), the tourism numbers for 2018 will be over 10,000 short of the arrivals in 2017 which was 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.
PVA Chair of the Board Ngirai Tmetuchl said that the dip in numbers for the 2018 arrivals is attributed to the pull out of two airlines, which serve the key markets of Japan and China.
Palau Pacific Airways (PPA) ceased operation in August stating that the plunge in Chinese tourists visiting the country has forced them to halt services from Macau and Hong Kong.
Since 2015, the Chinese market accounted for about 50 percent of arrivals in Palau. Based on the October 2018 visitor arrivals, the share of visitors from China has been reduced to 30 percent.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines ended its service to Palau in May.
The Japan market is one of the key tourism markets of Palau and according to the December 2017 visitors’ statistic report. In 2017 alone, there were 29,236 tourists from Japan that visited the country.
“The two airlines that brought the most number of tourists stopped flying – Delta and PPA,” Tmetuchl stated.
Tmetuchl said the dip in tourism arrivals is not something the government is worried about, instead it proved that the policy of cutting the charter flights coming from Hong Kong and Macau in 2016 was effective to stem the tide of “mass tourism.”
According to the PVA visitor arrival statistics, People’s Republic of China (China) registered 2,028 arrivals in October 2018 representing a decrease of 3,292 compared to
same month last year with 5,320 arrivals.
The weak visitor arrivals for 2018 have put a strain on Palau’s economy with all tourism-related revenues showing a slowdown.
Earlier, Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang told the media at a press conference that all the tourism-related revenues fell due to the decrease in tourism numbers.
The drop in the tourism arrivals was reflected in the national government’s revenue collection target.
The government missed its target collection by 8 percent with Fiscal Year 2018 revenues projected at $91,526,514 but the actual collection only reaching $89,250,541. (Bernadette H. Carreon)