Palau will halve charter flights from China starting next month to stem a flood of tourists.
The western Pacific country said the move is part of efforts to promote a healthy and balanced tourism industry, ABC News reported Tuesday, citing Public Infrastructure Minister Charles Obichang.
Tourist numbers hit record highs in 2014 but the Palau Visitors Authority said the influx from China and its impact on accommodation was “quite alarming”.
President Tommy Remengesau said the decision is not aimed at any specific nationality but to prevent tourism from becoming too reliant on one market.
“Do we want to control growth or do we want growth to control us?” he said.
The decision came after nearly 11,000 Chinese tourists descended on the the Micronesian paradise in February, six times the number a year earlier, and more than half of the country’s population.
Chinese travelers made up about 62 percent of all visitors during the month, up from 16 percent in January last year, according to French news agency AFP.
A businessman from Sichuan province said he likes Palau because he is tired of the stereotypical package tours.
A female tourist from Shanghai said Palau is like paradise and people respect the environment, unlike Shanghai where the air is polluted, am730 reported Tuesday.
However, residents have accused Chinese tourists of being noisy and disrespectful toward the environment, such as throwing garbage into the sea and damaging corals.
They are blaming the visitors for the deaths of some marine life in Jellyfish Lake.
Foreign tourists were up 34 percent last year to 141,000, mainly thanks to Chinese arrivals but the economic growth rate did not match the number of visitors, said Nanae Singeo, managing director of the Palau Visitors Authority.
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