Palau to allow only five-star hotel developments in new legislation
2017-01-12By Elizabeth Finney

The Republic of Palau, a popular diving destination for superyachts, has announced a new policy that will only allow five-star resorts to open on the islands in a bid to reduce the number of tourists visiting.

Despite the fact that Palau gets 85% of its annual revenue from tourism, president Tommy Remengesau announced that the new legislation would focus on “quality rather than quantity”.

The change is due to an increase in overcrowding, which has caused damage to the environment in popular spots such as the Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the renowned Jellyfish Lake and various snorkelling sites around the islands.

Remengesau wants to be smarter about which companies the government will work with for the future of tourism in the country, offering tax breaks for those who can build their own infrastructure, including water source, sewage system and power generation. “It’s kind of a win-win situation for Palau and the investor,” said Remengesau.

The last two years have seen a huge influx of visitors to the island, especially due to an increase in package tours from China. Palau is extremely prevalent for divers, though its recent popularity has caused damage to some of the coral reefs.

“There’s a right way to do things and there’s a wrong way to do things,” Remengesau added. “Development coming to Palau can be over the ocean, in the mangrove, crested on the hill, but if you do it right, it will not impact ithe environment. We have seen it in the Maldives, Mexico and others that the best spots around the world have blended in with the environment.”

Protecting the environment has recently been a top priority for Palau — last year the archipelago enlisted help from a 40 metre patrol boat to help control illegal fishing in its vast new marine reserve, which was approved in 2015 with the help of Stuart Beck, winner of the Visionary Award at The Ocean Awards 2017.

Palau offers spectacular diving and beautiful landscapes, perfect for those hoping to see exotic wildlife on their superyacht travels. Yachts up to 25 metres can moor up in the basin by the Royal Belau Yacht Club on Malakal Island, while larger vessels can drop anchor further out.