To celebrate the conclusion of the 45th Pacific Islands Forum held in Koror, Palau, this week’s ecotourism destination is the tiny Pacific state that has decided to fight climate change through sustainable tourism.
Similarly to other nations in the region, Palau and its people are threatened by the effects of climate change and unsustainable development. Rising sea levels, pollution and overfishing in particular are some of the issues the country faces – and that it has discussed with other Pacific nations during the summit.
As the leading topic of the forum was the role of the ocean, Palau’s president noted that it was crucial for Pacific nations to protect the ocean.
“The tourism industry, which is our bread and butter, is the mother goose that lays the golden egg for us,” he said.
For this reason, the island has revolutionised its environmental regulation since 2005, with president Tommy E. Remengesau committing to conserve 30% of near-shore coastal waters and 20% of forest land by 2020 and promoting ecotourism, helped by the extraordinary environment, barrier reefs walls and World War II wrecks.
Palau has created the first shark sanctuary, a protected marine habitat of 600,000 square kilometres that has been defined as “the perfect way to promote long-term sustainability of a marine reserve as well as a way to support the local economy of a community that has chosen to protect, rather than hunt, its sharks”.
Being a colourful tropical island, where tourists can learn local traditions or enjoy snorkelling and diving, it is not hard to image how easily Palau can thrive as ecotourism destination.
Photo: Hajo Schatz via flickr