Palau’s innovative ideas to help tourists tread lightly

Palau’s innovative ideas to help tourists tread lightly

By Laura Chalk  June 24th, 2022

Visitors to Palau will be offered exclusive culture and nature-based experiences as a reward for the sustainable choices they make while on the islands.


As the pacific nation reopens its boarders, many residents are seeking to make the influx of tourists as gentle on the environment as possible. Two locals with a passion for preserving the archipelago’s unique ecosystems have designed a platform to incentivise conscious choices through a points and rewards system, which will operate through a mobile application to be launched over the coming months.

The program, which is called Ol’au Palau, works by rewarding those who make certain travel choices. Points are issued to those who treat the island nation respectfully by making eco-conscious decisions like using reef-safe sunscreen, choosing accommodation that adheres to green practices and eating sustainably sourced local food. Visitors can then redeem their points to unlock experiences that are normally reserved for Palauans and their personal guests, such as taking an unmarked hike, swimming at a secret cave or sharing a meal with locals and elders.

The project was co-founded by Laura Clark, a local resident with a background in marketing, and Palauan conservationist Jennifer Koskelin-Gibbons.

"Ol'au is an informal way for us to call out to someone we know such as a friend or family to grab their attention," Koskelin-Gibbons told BBC News.

"We may use it to call you to join in on a barbecue, or if we're on a beach and you are coming by on your boat, I can call out to invite you over to join in on our family fun."

Palau already has a raft of measures in place to protect its environment from tourist impact, including the Palau Pledge. At the time the pledge was implemented in 2017, the nation was receiving 150,000 visitors annually – seven times Palau’s population. Many of the visitors lacked knowledge about the fragile ecosystem and the desire the locals had to protect it.

Locals observed that visitors required education to help prevent them from unintentionally damaging their home and environment. The pledge was introduced as a solution to this, requesting visitors to read and sign a declaration upon entering the country that they will respect the culture, wildlife and environment, which is then stamped into the visitor’s passport.

The nation is also single-use plastic free and encourages visitors to bring their own shopping bags and containers. More information and education for tourists are found at the Palau Pledge website.

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Positive Actions

Laura Chalk

With a background in Teaching English as a Second Language and Communications, Laura joined Planet Ark in 2016. Laura has a passion for the environment and behaviour change, and is excited about using social media to help people take positive environmental actions everyday.

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