KOROR, (Tia Belau/Pacnews) â€” The majority of visitors to Palau in 2015 were from China with over 50 percent of arrivals. Japan, which used to be the largest demographic of visitors, is now Palauâ€™s second largest tourism market.
According to the December 2015 Palau Visitors Authority)Arrival Statistics Report, Chinese visitors in 2015 doubled compared to 2014. Palau received 161,931 tourists in 2015, 87,058 of whom were from China.
In 2014, there were only 39,383 visitors from China. The overall visitor arrival according to the report was historic. In 2014, Palau had 140,784 tourists.
The Japan market which historically occupied the top spot for years had 31,106 visitors in 2015 compared to 37,986 in 2014.
The increase in Chinese tourists, based on the report, was due to the direct charter services between Palau, Hong Kong and Macau. Despite the governmentâ€™s directive slashing charter flights in half in April, Chinese tourists continue to arrive via direct services from Korea and Taiwan.
Private planes also carried Chinese visitors to Palau.The Taiwan tourist numbers also fell with only 14,174 in 2015, a 50 percent decrease compared to 30,080 in 2014. The Taiwan market used to be at the number 2 spot but dropped to the third spot. Tourists from Korea registered 12,327 visitors compared to 14,650 tourists in 2014.
In March 2015, the Palau government issued a directive cutting the number of charter flights by April saying that other markets were being squeezed out due to the large Chinese tourist influx.
Most Chinese tour agencies booked rooms in advance that resulted in a lack of accommodation for other tourists.