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Palau creates rewards system to encourage good behaviour from tourists

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

April 19, 2022 | 4 min read

The Palau Legacy Project has launched a new campaign to educate people on how to respect the country’s environment and local culture.

Palau

Palau’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic with no visitors entering Palau for almost two years / The Palau Legacy Project

The campaign, called “Ol’au Palau” and created by Host/Havas, awards points to people who demonstrate good behavior and respect the culture on the island. They can use these points to unlock experiences that were previously only accessible to Palauans.

These points can be accumulated in the Ol’au Palau app by doing things such as offsetting their carbon footprint using a personal carbon calculator, using reef-safe sunscreen, and frequenting businesses that are reducing their impact on the environment culture.

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Points will also be awarded to people who visit certain culturally significant tourism sites, eat sustainably sourced local food, participate in community regenerative tourism projects, and avoid single-use plastics.

Once they accumulate enough points, people can exchange these points to access certain parts of the island, meet local elders and tour historic sites, hikes that are off the beaten track, visit villages and have lunch with the community, traditional fishing, and swimming at hidden caves.

The campaign was created after research found that 90% of people want to experience a destination’s natural environment and culture and learn how to preserve and protect it during their stay. In addition, 87% of people said that they would spend more for holiday in a destination that had a pristine, protected environment and culture.

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Some 89% of people also said would be more interested in visiting a country with this type of rewards program, and that participating would make them feel good about their holiday. In addition, 85% said this idea would make them more likely to engage in positive behavior when they visit a country.

“Palau’s tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic with no visitors entering Palau for almost two years. Despite the economic impact, Palau’s tourism sector is determined to stick to its high-value ecotourism strategy and find a way to bounce back sustainably from the pandemic,” said Alan T. Marbou, board member of Palau Visitors Authority and former speaker of the Koror State Government.

“By launching Ol’au Palau we get to reward our most conscientious guests and protect our most highly prized tourism asset: our pristine environment and unique culture. The pandemic has provided our planet with a much-needed wake-up call and an opportunity to see what’s possible when nature has a chance to rebalance itself. We hope that Ol’au Palau will make more destinations think about the true cost of tourism and rethink who they reward with their best experiences.”

The Palau Legacy Project previously created a pledge that visitors need to sign with the visa stamp on their passports. The stamp, which outlines a promise to help Palau protect its environment, acts as an agreement on entering the small country.

Ol’au Palau by Host/Havas

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