For the sake of jobs, it’s time for Palau to diversify

Regional News
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

KOROR (Island Times/Pacnews) — Palau and other Pacific island countries will need to give “serious consideration” to diversifying their economies given the absence of tourists due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Glynis Miller, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Pacific trade commissioner to New Zealand, told Pacific reporters that Palau, for example, has great potential to strengthen its fisheries industry. 

“I think that for Palau, your biggest industry is the tourism sector and I think that until borders are reopened, Palau like most other Pacific island countries will need to give serious consideration to diversifying and making commitments…to other industries that would benefit and provide jobs,” she said. 

She added,  “One of the Pacific island leaders made a statement about putting all of their eggs in one basket and making reference to the heavy reliance on the tourism industry. And the same could be said for other countries that used to have vibrant and strong tourism sectors. I think for Palau,  fisheries and services have potential.”

However, she said diversification is easier said than done, adding that it takes government commitment and all sectors  working together. 

“It is not a quick-fix because a lot of commitments will need to be made by the government, by non-government organizations, by the private sector and the chamber of commerce, by development agencies like the Asian Development Bank and others that are stationed in Palau to come together in a roundtable discussion with the government to identify what the priorities are for Palau,” she added. 

Miller said the Suva-based Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat can assist Palau once it has determined its priorities.

According to a recent U.S. Department of the Interior economic assessment of Palau, due to the border closure, the island nation is projected to experience a 51% reduction in tourist arrivals, and a further 89% reduction in fiscal year 2021.

This will translate to a significant decline in GDP; a loss of 3,128 jobs primarily in the private sector; and a $40 million fiscal deficit.

Read more articles

previous arrow
next arrow