Regardless of being house to lower than 20,000 inhabitants, the Pacific Republic of Palau is a supply of inspiration for the remainder of the world in the case of conserving the planet.
The nation, made up of greater than 300 islands within the Western Pacific, not solely adopted the world’s first anti-nuclear structure in 1979, but in addition carried out the Palau Dedication in December 2017, which requires worldwide guests to stamp their passports promising youngsters. from Palau that they may “stroll fastidiously” and “protect and defend” the islands.
Now, with the reopening of the archipelago to tourism, after two lengthy years of pandemic, a brand new program known as Ol’au Palau provides a pioneering initiative on the planet of “gamification” (utilizing the mechanics and options of the sport to impress behaviors) of accountable tourism. , which can present vacationers with distinctive experiences based mostly on how they deal with the atmosphere and native tradition.
This system, administered by way of a cell software, gives factors for vacationers who deal with the nation with kindness and respect, making sustainable decisions, resembling utilizing protected sunscreen for the reef, visiting culturally essential locations (such because the Nationwide Museum). from Belau and Bai, the oldest in Micronesia) and eat native meals from sustainable sources.
Earned factors are used to unlock experiences reserved for locals solely, resembling a particular journey, swimming in a secret cave, sharing a meal with villagers and the aged, or fishing in a secluded spot.
This system additionally guarantees new experiences not open to extraordinary vacationers, resembling the primary delivery ceremony, a serious cultural occasion.
The concept of the Palau Dedication happened in 2015, when tourism reached 150,000 guests a 12 months, greater than 7 occasions the nation’s inhabitants, a lot of whom didn’t perceive the fragility of the ecosystem or the significance of sustainability for residents.
Native tradition values hospitality and treats guests with respect, however locals have complained that some guests pollute their atmosphere.
To fight this, Palau wanted a solution to educate guests, says resident Laura Clarke, who co-founded the Palau Legacy Undertaking in 2020 along with her buddy Jennifer Koskelin-Gibbons.
With Clarke’s expertise in advertising and marketing and promoting and Koskelin-Gibbons’ work in conservation, Ol’au Palau was born. Ol’au, within the native language, means to ask somebody into your area.
“That is a casual solution to get the eye of somebody we all know, resembling a buddy or member of the family,” explains Koskelin-Gibbons.
“It’s normal to name somebody to a barbecue, or if we’re on a seaside and also you’re coming in your boat, I can name to ask you to hitch our household.”
As a result of it depends closely on tourism, Palau has been hit exhausting by Covid and quarantine.
The nation reopened in April this 12 months for absolutely vaccinated vacationers. The locals wish to present the world once more its lovely white sand seashores and diving websites wealthy in wildlife, which earned it the nickname “Submarine Serengeti”.
Palau was the scene of battles in World Struggle II, so the nation has the stays of Japanese ships and planes that entice history-loving divers.
As well as, Palau just lately created the world’s first Nationwide Marine Sanctuary, banning all extraction (together with business fishing) of 500,000 sq. kilometers of ocean. Consequently, Palau is right for observing about 135 species of sharks and rays.
“This 12 months has been an excellent one. The corals are blooming and the reefs are lovely,” mentioned Scott Arni, captain of the Palau Aggressor II, who has been conducting diving expeditions in Palau for 10 years.
“The sounding was superb, with plenty of sharks and nice encounters with mantle rays within the German Channel (a channel dug within the Palau Coral Barrier within the southwest).”
Ol’au Palau’s rewards will be tailor-made to the vacationer’s curiosity, whether or not it is diving, mountaineering or getting concerned in the local people.
Clarke recommends a 10-14 day journey to take advantage of your schedule, particularly contemplating the time it takes to journey to the distant archipelago, positioned 890 km east of the Philippines and 1,330 km southwest of Guam.
“In the event you accumulate factors within the first 5 days, you should have 5 or 6 extra days to redeem them.”
leaves no traces
Sustainability is important for a lot of in Palau, so it is easy to search out native companies that adhere to good environmental practices. Those that sit and dine in these locations earn factors within the Ol’au Palau program.
These locations are a part of the Palau Enterprise Pledge program, the place corporations work to reduce their affect on the atmosphere and assist their prospects do the identical.
Consumption of fish and native merchandise is likely one of the best methods to maintain this economic system.
Palau’s nationwide soup is named demo – made with taro leaf (an edible plant), coconut broth and crab.
“Not solely is it wholesome, however it’s extremely scrumptious after an extended day on the water,” says Koskelin-Gibbons.
To discover your complete island, Clarke recommends Sam’s Excursions, which is 100% native.
They rent native guides for his or her kayaking, mountaineering and snorkeling journeys, and in addition incorporate sustainable practices into their excursions (resembling serving native lunch and avoiding disposable plastics) with out leaving a hint throughout visits.
It’s reportage was revealed on BBC Traveit .Learn the unique article (in English) right here.
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