Visitor Behavior and Management in Palau
Palau is a reputable tourism republic located in the western Pacific Ocean. The destination is known for outstanding rock islands, scuba diving sikes, and exceptional jellyfish lake. Palau has world-class resorts and cost-effective hotels that support tourists’ same-day and overnight accommodation needs (Hezel, 2017). The number of international visitors, mainly from Asia, continues to rise, which can degrade the natural resources that attract tourists in Palau. More than 115 000 individuals visited in 2018. There was, however, a reduction in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (PalauGov, 2021). The trend creates the need for Palau to implement a sustainable tourism development strategy centered on visitor behavior management. The spike in COVID-19 infections in 2020 forced countries to impose travel restrictions that negatively affected tourism demand in Palau. Besides, the Palau government requires COVID-19 vaccination proof for all visitors, significantly reducing tourism demand (Carreon, 2021). Palau experiences tension between ecological conservation and tourism development to sustain the increasing numbers of visitors. Scuba diving is the main attraction that attracts many visitors to Palau. However, the maritime heritage is so sensitive to increased human activities. This challenge requires the implementation of approaches that sustains ecological, social, economic, and cultural sustainability to improve the visitor experience. The Paula authorities need to redesign the tourism heritage to include virtual experiences. Moreover, they can adopt visitor access scheduling systems that rely on advance ticketing criteria to limit access to sensitive heritage sites. Encouraging visitors to perform other non—essential activities aware of the heritage site can enhance the quality of world heritage ecosystems in Palau. Lastly, communicating the negative impacts of pollution and population stress on the heritage ecosystems increases tourists’ involvement in sustainable tourism development (UNESCO, 2015). Also, in-depth analysis and prediction of visitors’ behavior help in creating and implementing realistic management strategies.
Hezel, F.X. (2017). On your mark, get set… Tourism’s take-off in Micronesia. East-West Center.
UNESCO. (2015). UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Online Toolkit: Guide 8 Managing visitor behavior. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. www.whc.unesco.org/sustainabletourismtoolkit/guides/guide-8-managing-visitor-behaviour
Carreon, B. (2021, May 21). Palau’s travel bubble popped by Taiwan’s COVID-19 spike. Pacific Beat. www.abc.net.au/radio-australia/programs/pacificbeat/palau-tourism-bubble-