By BERNADETTE H. CARREON
Palau Correspondent

KOROR, Palau — Palau hosted the Tri-annual Meeting of the Pacific Asia Travel Association-Micronesia Chapter from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4 with close to 40 of its members representing national and state tourism, travel trade and businesses in the region. The meeting took place at the Thomas Remengesau Building at the Palau International Coral Reef Center.

On Dec. 3, PATA Micronesia chair Stephanie Nakamura welcomed the members of the event and said the gathering was an opportunity for them to share knowledge on best tourism practices in the region.

PATA Micronesia is a regional group of government and private companies involved in tourism and hospitality industry in the Western Pacific. Its goals include educating and training employees of member organizations to serve visitors more effectively and build marketing programs that will attract more visitors to the islands.

Guest Speaker Austin Shelton III, executive director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam, lauded Palau as a role model of sustainable tourism practices during the general membership meeting.

Shelton is helping to lead initiatives that move island communities like Guam and FSM toward a “sustainable future,” he said.

He said among the initiatives is to reach out to other islands to ramp up the sustainability movement, also taking inspiration from Palau’s Micronesian Challenge.

To further showcase Palau’s pristine environment, the members took a field trip to the nation’s Rock islands. On the final day, participants held a clam planting in Melekeok, helping to sustain natural resources through community involvement.

PATA is an internationally known organization and has several chapters worldwide. The association provides training and grants for new and emerging destinations and has access to research and innovative events to its member organizations.

Nakamura said this kind of networking is an opportunity for “Palau to get insights on how to promote the island nation and develop the tourism assets of other states.”

She said, in turn, Palau can also impart knowledge on how they protect its resources, especially with the nation being a frontrunner and global leader on environmental initiatives, such the Palau Pledge and the marine sanctuary.  mbj