President Tommy E. Remengesau has heeded calls to delay the added fees for tourists after a coalition of airlines and tourism development groups called for the postponement of the April 1 implementation of the new $100 environmental impact fee.
The president also agreed with Palau Visitor's Authority's analysis that until a more positive sign from the larger source markets in Asia, implementing the EIF on April 1st of this year is not the most opportune time to be increasing tourist fees.
“With global market activity affecting dollar values across our top tourism markets in Asia including Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the People’s Republic of China, it would be wise to hold off on the EIF for now until more positive indicators of inbound tourism from Asia convince us otherwise,” said President Remengesau.
Tourists with shopping bags on Koror main street. Photo by Ongerung Kambes Kesolei.
Remengesau reached his decision after a series of meetings in late January with key tourism and economic advisers, which included PVA’s analysis on factors that would lead to lower arrival numbers, including currency exchange rates affecting the Japanese Yen and PRC government mandate on tourism in non-diplomatic states.
A press release by the president’s office yesterday, disclosed that Palau Visitors Authority also advised the President with tourist arrival data and market forecast research indicating that with or without the EIF implemented in April, Palau would see at least a 10% decline in tourist arrivals for the year 2017.
Tourist last year dropped to 138,408, a decline of 15 percent as compared to 2015 when 161,931 arrivals visited the island.
“Global markets, trade, and tourism structures are being reassessed world-wide, and although the EIF would have great positive impact in our economic structure, it would be hasty and ill-advised to move forward in April with major global market players still assessing and arranging what will become the new global market status quo,” President Remengesau was quoted in the press release.
The president said that by extending the implementation date, additional work can be carried out to facilitate the smooth transition to and implementation of the EIF such as incorporating the EIF into the airline ticket of passengers.
President Remengesau is setting the EIF implementation time frame for next year, no earlier than 2018 April and no later than 2018 October.