Palau to open up to fully vaccinated travelers

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. during an exclusive interview with PNC. (PNC photo)

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. is here on Guam for the Joint Committee Meeting with the U.S. Government. Yesterday, PNC sat down with the president for an exclusive interview about his meeting with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and other officials.

For the second part of that interview, President Whipps Jr. talks about tourism, the economic recovery of Palau, and allowing vaccinated travelers to come to Palau.

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At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Palau enforced a moratorium on government travel to prevent the introduction of the virus into the community and finally limited air travel to just essential flight activities during the last few months of 2020.

Palau has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders and just recently established a travel bubble with Taiwan, one of its diplomatic partners in the region.

And now, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. says that the government will release new guidelines that would allow vaccinated travelers to come to Palau. That directive will take effect before the end of the month.

“In fact, Palau has new regulations coming out that will be effective May 22nd. If you want to visit Palau and you are vaccinated, you can visit Palau and all that is required is that you take your PCR test 72 hours before the flight,” Whipps said.

More than opening doors to more tourists to come to Palau, President Whipps Jr. says with the new guidelines, Palau citizens residing in other countries, states, or territories such as Guam can visit soon.

“When you come to Palau…you won’t have to be quarantined because you’ve been vaccinated. So we are excited about that. I think that is a ray of hope and Palau is also fortunate, really. Through the exceptional work by the Ministry of Health and the partnership of the United States, 97 percent of our adults have been vaccinated at least with the first dose and on May 22nd, they’ll have the second dose. And that equates to 71 percent of our total population,” Whipps said.

The Palau President also shared his economic recovery initiatives which focus on diversifying the economy and opening livelihood opportunities and strengthening agriculture and fisheries.

“We have created a new Ministry — which is the Ministry of Human Resources, Culture, Tourism and Development. And that is really about creating opportunities for people and encouraging more investment … investments and jobs that really help our people. We just passed the Arbitration Act and we are hoping to pass the Corporations Act. We are also looking at opportunities for opening Palau as an aircraft registration country,” Whipps said.

He added that their goal is to offer sustainable employment so citizens can earn a decent income and stay in Palau.