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How Tiny Palau Became a Leader in Tourism

How Tiny Palau Became a Leader in Tourism

Palau is an independent nation and an archipelago of over 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. Koror Island is home to the former capital, also named Koror, and is the islands’ commercial center.

So how did Palau become a tourism leader? The answer to that question may be answered with another question.

What type of suntan lotion is the best to protect your skin when on a beach in Hawaii, Florida or Palau?

The use of a suntan lotion doesn’t provide a tourist a free ticket to kill coral reefs. Suntan lotion containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two common chemicals known to damage coral reefs,

Killing coral reefs means killing the travel and tourism industry, followed by killing the economy of a small country like Palau.

The Government of Palau, therefore, becomes the first country where the sale of such sunscreen is now illegal, under President Tommy Remengesau. He served as the ninth President of Palau since 2013. He originally served as the seventh president from 2001 to 2009. He was a Senator in the Palau National Congress between his two administrations.

The larger Babeldaob has the present capital, Ngerulmud, plus mountains and sandy beaches on its east coast. In its north, ancient basalt monoliths known as Badrulchau lie in grassy fields surrounded by palm trees.

“We have to live and respect the environment because the environment is the nest of life,” said Palau President Tommy Remengesau.”

Oxybenzone and octinoxate absorb ultraviolet light, the radiation that causes sunburn and skin damage.

Toxic sunscreen chemicals have been found throughout Palau’s critical habitats and in the tissues of Palau’s most famous creatures. The Palau president says:” We don’t mind being the first nation to ban these chemicals, and we will do our part to spread the word.”

Stores that sell sunscreen with those chemicals could be fined up to $1,000, and tourists entering the country will not be allowed to bring violating sunscreen in.

Besides bleaching coral, the two chemicals have been shown to deform and damage its DNA, as well as deform and kill juvenile coral. Fair-skinned swimmers worried about sunburn still can use reef-safe ones.

“As the custodians of many world-famous natural wonders, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is our duty to encourage responsible treatment of these landmarks by the many thousands of visitors who travel from around the world to experience them,” the law reads.

Many Palau residents have witnessed environmentally destructive practices by uneducated visitors including the removal of rare creatures, the endangering of coral by fins or chemical pollutants, and the leaving of plastic litter.

The law also closes 80% of the exclusive economic zone in a marine sanctuary to fishing and marine activities such as mining and shark finning, placing a commercial fishing ban over 190,000 square miles of ocean.

Hawaii and Key West, Florida will follow Palau in 2021.