Palau leader proposes 'luxury only' tourism

  • 10 January 2017
An aerial view of Palau Image copyright iStock/Norimoto
Image caption It's easy to see why tourists flock to Palau but the government wants to attract fewer people and more money

Palau wants to cut the number of tourists visiting its idyllic shores by making it a more expensive place to visit.

President Tommy Remengesau wants to rebrand the Pacific island state as a luxury destination and is proposing a new law that would allow only five-star hotel developments in future, Radio New Zealand International reports. He's offering tax breaks for high-end investors if they sort out all their own infrastructure needs, such as building roads and designing water treatment systems for the resorts.

Palau relies heavily on tourism, but in recent years locals have complained about an influx of visitors causing overcrowding at popular sites, damaging coral reefs and disturbing wildlife. The biggest increase has been among Chinese tour groups, and in 2015 the government announced it was halving the number of charter flights arriving from China.

President Remengesau says the proposed law focuses on "quality rather than quantity", and he makes clear that Palau wants to attract big spenders, Marianas Variety reports. But he says it's also about developing the islands in a way that respects the natural environment and those who call the country home.

"There's a right way to do things and there's a wrong way to do things," he says, adding that when it comes to development, "the best spots around the world have blended in with the environment".

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