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Palau Takes Steps to Update and Diversify Tourism


Palau Correspondent, Article Courtesy of Marianas Business Journal

KOROR, Palau (Marianas Business Journal) — Palau hosted the Pacific Asia Travel Association New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2017 from Nov. 15 to Nov. 17, bringing together more than 30 delegates from both the public and private sectors to look toward responsible and sustainable tourism.

One reason for the forum’s location this year is that Palau is considered an emerging destination, according to Mario Hardy, CEO of PATA.

Two topics were chosen for discussion that are specifically relatable to Palau, digital marketing and community-based tourism. 

Hardy said, “PATA’s purpose is to help destinations to get to be known overseas, but also to work with the local market, help [pinpoint] how to look at the market and [help] develop tourism or promote it.”

To do so, one speaker brought to the forum was Damian Cook, CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, Kenya, who talked about keeping pace with digital technology. This was a timely conversation, with Palau having recently turned on its fiber optic for commercial use on Dec. 7. The connectivity will help Palau and its tourism related businesses to interact with targeted audiences in real time.

This will be vital, as travelers want to be able to share and post photos and videos of their traveling experiences in real time, Hardy said. Discussed as part of the digital technology session is how the “selfie culture” in the Asian market, specifically, is an important way of promoting a destination like Palau. A fast internet will provide local businesses with the ability to promote themselves and encourage visitors to Palau to become ambassadors through experience.

The second session, which delved into the community-based tourism program, was facilitated by Chris Bottrill, vice chairman of PATA and dean of the Faculty of Global and Community Studies at the School of Tourism Management Capilano University in Canada. Currently, tourism in Palau has been mainly concentrated in Koror and in diving. The discussions in this session aimed to help Palau in its goal to diversify its portfolio as a tourism destination.

PATA participants during the first two days also got to taste the Palauan culture through a technical tour of Ngardmau State and Ngarchelong State.

Hardy said that with the tour of Ngradmau and Ngarchelong State, PATA members could see firsthand opportunities to help with developing tourism in the area by utilizing the communities. He said a survey conducted among young Asians showed that majority wants to experience local life. “They don’t want to be spectators but to be actors. They want to fish with the fishermen, learn how to cook and embed themselves into the local culture,” he said.

Palau has also partnered with TripAdvisor to help promote the country. 

As part of its aim to ramp up its digital marketing, the Palau Visitors Authority forged a partnership with TripAdvisor to create a Palau destination page which will link tourism related businesses in the island nation in order to promote businesses, manage reviews and drive direct bookings in the country. A boot camp with members of the private sector was held on Nov. 20 to review and discuss the new page. 

Kadoi Ruluked, operations and programs director at PVA said the boot camp was to help businesses or state governments to be equipped with the knowledge of using the Trip Advisor or Palau page to promote their businesses or states activities.

“PVA invested in TripAdvisor to create the Palau page, now no one is managing [it]. … We did the boot camp because they [the businesses] are the integral part of the page — they are the pillar. The page won’t exist and won’t go anywhere without them,” Ruluked said. 

The boot camp covered practical tips and step-by-step tutorials of how to use free tools available on TripAdvisor. Gary Cheng, sales manager for destination marketing organizations in North Asia at TripAdvisor conducted the boot camp. 

For more information about PATA, visit

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