Palau tourism rebounds, aims for Pre-Pandemic levels by year’s end 

Photo: Palau International Airport

Palau’s tourism industry is experiencing a significant comeback, with visitor arrivals steadily increasing throughout 2023 and into 2024. 

Total arrivals in 2023 surpassed 42,000, reaching nearly 45 percent of pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019. This positive trend continues in 2024, with the first quarter seeing a surge of nearly 100 percent compared to the same period in 2023 (14,723 visitors in 2024 vs. 7,330 in 2023). 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) attributes this growth to rising tourist numbers and public infrastructure projects planned for later this year. Projecting the first quarter’s performance over the remaining months, Palau could see approximately 59,000 visitors by December 2024, reaching 63 percent of 2019’s total arrivals. 

Despite the positive outlook, a lack of available workforce presents a challenge for tourism businesses struggling to meet growing industry demands. 

However, President Surangel Whipps Jr remains optimistic. In his recent State of the Republic Address, he emphasised patience and perseverance, stating, “COVID-19 is behind us now. While things are tough currently, public infrastructure projects exceeding US$800 million dollars are set to begin in the coming year.” .