Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering has signed the Palau Pledge on the sideline of the United Nations World Tourism Organization conference in Bhutan, in a symbolic gesture acknowledging the shared culture of conservation between the two countries.
Tshering signed the pledge at a meeting with Palau first lady Debbie Remengesau, who is the chairperson of the Palau Legacy Project, which has launched a campaign to build awareness of the environmental effect of mass tourism on Palau. The project created the Palau Pledge that visitors must sign within the visa stamp in their passports, promising to help Palau protect its environment. The pledge acts as an agreement for visitors on entering the small country.
During their meeting yesterday, Remengesau highlighted the strong similarities between the two nations that she had observed during her time in Bhutan, including the respect and appreciation for environment and culture and the importance of preserving both for the next generation; their shared UNESCO World Heritage status; nuclear free constitutions and the focus Bhutan has placed on high-value, low-impact tourism.
She also observed that both Palauans and Bhutanese grow and chew beetle nuts and that neither country has traffic lights.
Bhutan adopted the high-value, low-volume tourism model at the bequest of the King of Bhutan in 1974. Tshering said it is a long-term strategy designed to benefit the whole community. He praised Palau’s conservation culture and world-leading efforts to protect environment and culture, including the Palau National Marine Sanctuary and the Palau Pledge.
Remengesau and Tshering talked about how both countries could work together to raise awareness of the global issues facing both small nations and agreed to collaborate on sustainable, eco- tourism strategies moving forwards.
“Today we have started a friendship that will last forever,” said Tshering. “We are a land-locked country that has devoted 60 percent of our land to forestation for the betterment of the environment. Similarly, Palau is surrounded by oceans and has designated 80 percent of its [exclusive economic zone] as a marine sanctuary.”
For more information about the Palau Pledge, visit palaupledge.com. (PR)