Photo: The islands of Palau, where legislators are looking to only allow five-star hotels. (Photo via Flickr/LuxTonnerre)
Due to concerns about the impact of mass tourism, the president of Palau—a string of islands in the western Pacific Ocean—has proposed a new law which would only allow five-star hotels in the country.
According to The Telegraph, Palau President Tommy Remengesau is attempting to institute a “quality rather than quantity” tourism strategy that will focus on higher-income tourists with extra money to spend.
Not only would the proposed law attract only the wealthiest visitors, but it would also force the high-end hotels that want to open on the islands to design and build their own water treatment systems, power back-ups and even roads on their own dime.
In return, the five-star hotels would receive necessary tax breaks and exemptions from the government, making it a “win-win situation for Palau and the investor,” according to President Remengesau.
While Palau depends on tourism for financial success—85 percent of the gross domestic product comes from the travel industry—an influx of visitors has resulted in damage to coral reefs, overcrowding and wildlife disturbances.
One problem the local government found was that many of the Chinese tourists who visited the islands would spend little money locally, so Palau began limiting charter flights from China in 2015. As a result, the number of visitors went down, but the actual tourist spending went up, lending credence to the idea of quality rather than quantity in terms of the travel industry.
There are already several five-star resorts in Palau, but they are mostly found on the country’s most populated island, Koror. While government officials haven’t said where they’d like the new hotels to be built, there are over 500 islands in the country, so options are plentiful.