Across the Asia-Pacific region, countries are finding themselves in a similar predicament. Chinese visitors inject much-needed cash into local economies. Yet their sheer numbers raise environmental concerns, and at times, stir animosity among local residents. On top of that, Beijing seems to have realized it can use its travelers as political leverage, alongside its regionwide infrastructure drive.
In Palau's case, the flow of Chinese visitors peaked in 2015, with 88,476 descending on the remote island nation of 21,500. The influx raised fears of environmental degradation and prompted the government to halve the number of charter flights from Macau and Hong Kong, which accounted for most of the arrivals.
"Palau's small size, small population [and] very fragile environment do not go well with mass tourism," President Tommy Remengesau told the Nikkei Asian Review. "We want the tourists who would stay longer, who will spend more and who will respect the environment."
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