Additional COVID-19 safety equipment for Palau International Airport

February 17, 2023

Representatives from the Government of Palau, Embassy of Japan in Palau, and UNDP at the handover ceremony in Koror, Palau.

Photo: UNDP

Koror, Palau - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji has made a further delivery of COVID safety equipment - including retractable barriers and hydration stations – to Palau International Airport today, with support from the Government of Japan.

The delivery was made possible through UNDP's Integrated Border Management Project, which aims to support relevant agencies in Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu in reinforcing their capacities, capabilities and systems for effective and efficient movement of travelers and cargo, and to strengthen links for data and knowledge sharing, inter-agency and cross-regional cooperation.

With a reliance on tourism as a key economic pilar, Palau closed its borders in early 2020 as COVID-19 was spreading across the world. While this quick decision making resulted in keeping its population safe, and delaying community transmission of the virus, this brought the country’s vibrant tourism industry to a standstill, leaving thousands unemployed and many households with diminished incomes.

Prior to 2020, Palau received 100,000 visitors on average, each year, with Palau International Airport receiving 32 incoming flights each week from abroad. These figures have dramatically decreased following COVID-19 with just 10,000 visitors expected in 2023, and only seven flights per week arriving into the country.

When borders re-opened and quarantine free travel resumed, large sections of the local community expressed a sense of nervousness regarding international arrivals. This same hesitation was felt amongst frontline workers at Palau International Airport, with staff expressing the need for additional COVID safe measures to be put in place.

Honorable J. Uduch Sengebau Senior, Vice President of the Republic of Palau and Minister of Justice, said the delivery and hand over of equipment was well received by airport staff.

“COVID is very much still a concern for many here in Palau, with so many people across the country having felt the impact of COVID-19 border closures. The safety of both airport staff and incoming and outgoing passengers is vital, and the equipment will ensure that health and safety protocols remain a high priority at our main point of entry,” she said.

Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Palau, H.E. Orikasa Hiroyuki, affirmed his nation’s commitment towards the safe passage of goods and travelers to and from the island nation.

“Japan’s partnership with Palau, and the Pacific as a whole, is a partnership underpinned by mutual trust and respect. As one of our priority areas of cooperation, COVID-19 response and recovery remains high on our agenda, and this additional delivery will help further Japan’s objective of facilitating free and robust economic activity throughout the region," he said.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for the North Pacific, Kevin Petrini, said the delivery will see the country better equipped to maintain safe and effective border management protocols.

"The need for operational preparedness was a key lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The equipment delivered will greatly assist in finding the balance between living with the COVID-19 virus, while ensuring that the necessary safety and security protocols at borders remain in place," Mr. Petrini said.

This project is supported by the Government of Japan, with UNDP working alongside key partners - the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

For further media enquiries please contact:

Rustam Pulatov, Programme Manager, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (P) +679 3312 500 - (E);