Want to visit this tiny Pacific island nation? First, sign the pledge.


To enter the Republic of Palau, sign here. 

On Dec. 7, the Pacific island destination unveiled a new pledge for all incoming visitors and became the first country to incorporate environmental practices into its immigration laws. Before guests receive the stamp in their passport, which they must sign before an officer, they will watch an in-flight video inspired by a Palauan legend. In the film, a giant lands on the archipelago and inadvertently stomps on its natural resources. Realizing the damage he has wrought, he pursues a more sustainable, gentle-giant approach, thereby helping preserve the islands' natural beauty for future generations.  

The takeaway lesson for tourists: Tiptoe on those big feet of yours.  

"Tourists do not realize the negative impact they are having," said Laura Clarke, one of the four co-founders of the Palau Legacy Project. "If something isn't done, it is clear that tourists collectively could cause serious damage and devastation to Palau's fragile ecosystems."  

The agreement, which is dedicated to the children of Palau, opens with this promise: "I take this pledge as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home." The statement urges visitors to follow such environmentally sound practices as "tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully." It also warns them to not take or harm any precious objects. It closes with a poetic flourish: "The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away."  

The Palau Legacy Project created the pledge to address a growing concern over tourists' careless behaviors, such as littering, corrupting coral and disturbing protected species. The country can take legal action against visitors who break the conditions of the document, including issuing fines of up to $1 million. Signs at the airport and around the islands remind guests of their responsibilities. Among the don'ts: feeding the fish and sharks, and snatching fruit or flowers from gardens.  

Palau, one of the world's smallest nations, supports a population of 20,000 people and 160,000 annual visitors. Tourism has surged over the past three years, which has startled islanders - and also motivated them to act.  

"The pledge hopes to raise awareness of how we are all interconnected," Clarke said, "and how decisions made outside Palau impact the country as much as visitors do."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Southern states join to promote civil rights tourism
Southern states join to promote civil rights tourism

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Southern states that once fought to maintain racial segregation are now banding together to promote civil rights tourism at sites including the building where the Confederacy was born and the motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died.  Fourteen states stretching from Kansas to Delaware, including all of the Deep...
The next airline IT outage could happen at any time - are you prepared?

For Gojko Adzic, it's not a question of if, but when, the next airline IT outage will happen.  He should know. As the author of "Humans vs Computers," a book about ordinary people caught between wrong assumptions and computer bugs, he's had a front-row seat to several recent technological meltdowns. And as a London-based software expert...
Venezuela's economy is collapsing; violence is rampant. Its solution: woo tourists.

TODASANA, Venezuela - With its oil industry floundering, Venezuela is searching for a new engine of growth for an economy in free fall. The embattled socialist government thinks it has an answer - a future built not only on drilling and roughnecks, but beach umbrellas and piña coladas.  "Tourism is the oil that never runs out,"...
Airline employee orders passengers to delete videos of a dispute or risk arrest

Passengers left stranded at Boston's Logan International Airport after last week's winter storm say an airline employee ordered them to stop filming near the carrier's gate counter and delete videos from their phones. The employee threatened to call police and have them arrested if they failed to comply.  At least one passenger on the Toronto-bound...
Raising the bar in competition

After years of planning and construction, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup are generally regarded as the marquee sporting events of 2018. But there is an abundance of events throughout the year for sports enthusiasts around the globe, from the British-centric Commonwealth Games to the rough-and-tumble Rugby World Cup Sevens to the refined World...
More Stories