Håfa Adai, Tirow, Alii, Lenwo, Mogethin, Kaselehlie, Ran Anim, and Iokwe!
We are well into 2021, over a year and a half since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted travel and tourism, world-economies, and our day-to-day lives. For some time, it seemed as if the effects of the pandemic had no end in sight. Thankfully, we are getting closer to a new sense of “normal”, one that would allow for travel to resume, tourism to reopen and people to look forward to better days. Through the hardships that resulted from the pandemic, we rediscovered how resilient we are as Micronesians - just like the islands we call our home that weathered many typhoons throughout its history.
Despite the challenges we have faced in the past year, the Chapter has been able to get necessary work done. I want to thank my fellow Board of Directors for reviewing the Chapter’s finances, the Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs for submitting their budget proposal and the PR Committee for working with our members to put together the Chapter’s newsletter to keep our members and partners, both regional and international, apprised with the latest information from Micronesia.
As we get closer to reopening our borders and reviving our tourism industry, we need to prioritize the safety and security of our communities. With these in mind some of the islands have begun taking steps towards reopening their borders:
- Guam lifted travel restrictions for travelers fully vaccinated or arriving with a negative PCR test prior to arrival. The Guam Visitors Bureau launched the Air Vaccination and Vacation (Air V&V) Program with over 900 visitors from 5 chartered flights from Taiwan (8 more flights scheduled.
- The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has lifted more travel restrictions as 70% of the CNMI’s eligible population have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series. The CNMI was able to secure a travel bubble agreement with South Korea, which took effect on June 30, 2021. The agreement facilitates the safe resumption of air travel between the two countries during the COVID-19 pandemic; It is the first travel bubble agreement for South Korea and the CNMI.
- The Republic of Palau reopened its borders on May 30th for fully vaccinated travelers. Palau secured a travel bubble agreement with Taiwan, which took affect in April.
- The Federated States of Micronesia coordinated repatriation flights for residents in May with support of the U.S. Department of Defense followed by other flights thereafter.
- The Marshall Islands coordinated repatriation flights for residents in April and continue to evaluate this need.
The road to a full recovery is still a long stretch away. But in the absence of tourism, some good have emerged from it. We’ve seen our waters replenish with marine life, our corals looking healthier, the natural environment thriving and our people appreciating and exploring more of the islands that visitors from across the world come to experience. The “reset” button has been pushed and we must take advantage of this time to improve our infrastructures, safeguard our natural environment, and develop a plan that would satisfy both the demands of visitors and the well-being of our people, environment and culture.
From the Board of Directors and Committee Chairs, we thank you for your patience during this pandemic. There is more in store as we continue to progress towards the “new norm”. We can’t wait to share them with you at our next virtual General Membership meeting, which will be announced soon.
PATA Micronesia Chapter
PATA Micronesia Chapter