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Palau demands tourist pledge

With overtourism becoming a growing concern the world over, one tiny island in the Western Pacific has taken action to protect its future generations from the damage caused by overseas visitors.

Palau has become the first country in the world to ask visitors to sign a conservation pledge on entry, which is stamped in their passports.

The 160,000 tourists who each year visit Palau now have to make a compulsory promise, directly to the island's children, before they can enter the island of 20,000 inhabitants.

The pledge, which aims to preserve the country's vibrant culture and the beauty of its natural environment, was considered necessary after careless behaviour from visitors started to erode Palau's pristine environment.

Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, The Rolling Stones and former US secretary of state John Kerry have already taken the pledge.

Action can be taken against those who break the conditions, with fines of up to $US1 million for offences committed.

Palau has a long history of world-firsts in conservation. It was the first country to create a shark sanctuary in its national waters, it was the first to ban the destructive practice of bottom trawling, and in 2015, its leadership created the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, the largest fully-protected, no-take zone in the world.

Palau President Tommy E Remengesau Jr believes everybody holds responsibility for enacting change.

“Human impact on our earth's environment is one of the biggest challenges facing our world today,” he said.

“As a small country we feel the impact of these actions acutely. We hope that the Palau Pledge raises global awareness of the responsibility that this generation has to the next.”.


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