After growing strongly in 2015, tourism arrivals on Palau during the first five months of 2016 have fallen to at least 21 percent and are expected to continue to decline for the rest of the year, according to the latest Palau Visitors Authority Visitors Arrival report.
Tourists walking the main shopping area in downtown Koror. Photo by Ongerung Kambes Kesolei
The latest May 2016 arrivals posted the lowest for this year with 9,602 compared to 15,705 of May 2015.
The report stated that the slowdown in the tourist numbers could be attributed to the drought in Palau which started in March and eased up first week of May. The report also noted that the declining population in the iconic Jellyfish Lake might have also discouraged tourists from coming to the island nation.
“Based on qualitative feedback from sourcing markets and local tour operators, downturn in tourism are drought, reports of Jellyfish Lake and over-crowded perception of some tourism sites. Tourism is valuable to geo-political issues especially in today’s SNS (Social Networking Services) driven environment,” the report stated.
Visitor arrivals from the Mainland China continues to lead the market with 5,080 but also saw a big fall compared to the same month of last year with a 51.63 percent decrease.
Japan is second with 1,627 arrivals this year, representing a decrease of 674 compared to same month last year with, 2,301 arrivals.
ROC (Taiwan) with 1,019 arrivals in May 2016 representing a decrease of three percent compared to same month last year with 1,051 arrivals.
The report further added that while the drought has ended, there will be a slower trend in tourist arrivals for the rest of 2016, “given overall numbers of inquires and reservations are lower than previous years.”
A recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) private assessment report said Palau’s economy is driven by tourism and that 2015 tourists growth was explosive. Economists outlook stated that it was expected that a decline in number of visitors is predicted in 2016.
It also noted that the tourists “expansion has placed significant strain on the carrying capacity of Palau’s pristine natural sites and is threatening to overwhelm its infrastructure.”