The Palau Pledge


Last night I took the Palau Pledge – and I liked it. I liked that it reminded me I was about to enter a very special place. I liked that the government felt it was important enough for me to do. And I liked that everyone, without exception, had to take the pledge and sign off on it. So, what is the Palau Pledge?

The Palau Pledge is a commitment made by each and every tourist ‘to act in an ecologically responsible way on the island, for the sake of Palau’s children and future generations of Palauans.’

A Very Different Arrival

Delta Flight 281 from Narita touched down in Koror, the site of Palau’s international airport, at around 1 am. The 4-hour flight from Tokyo is an easy trip, but when you tack on the extra 7 hours I flew from Malaysia, plus a 10-hour layover in Japan, it all makes for a pretty tiring journey. As I’m waiting in the Immigration queue, I noticed that a few people ahead of me were being asked to fill something in by the Immigration Officers. I assumed this was because they missed a section of their immigration form. I’ve seen this plenty of times before in my travels. But as I was soon to realize, there was something much more significant going on here.

I handed over my passport and fully completed arrival forms. There’ll be no need for me to fill out anything else, I figured, confident that I had answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes. And I had. What I was still yet to complete, however, was the Palau Pledge.

Pledge and ye shall pass

My friendly Immigration Officer – well, ok, to be truthful, he wasn’t exactly over friendly, but he was ok – reached for his stamp, found an empty page in my passport and made his mark. I was all set to grab my passport and be on my way. But instead, the Gate Keeper held my passport open on the page of the new stamp he’d just put there and said, “I’ll need you to sign this.”


Palau Pledge

Children of Palau.
I take this pledge,
as your guest,
to preserve and protect
your beautiful and unique
island home.

I vow to tread lightly,
act kindly and
explore mindfully.

I shall not take
what is not given.

I shall not harm
what does not harm me.

The only footprints
I shall leave are those
that will wash away.


Brilliant! I love it.

As a key pillar of a tourism management strategy, I think it’s very smart. As a tourism marketing campaign, I think it’s genius! Connecting it to the children of Palau is a particularly powerful message. Making each visitor sign the pledge that is stamped into their passport is a clever way to deliver the message. Now it’s personal. It’s one thing to read the rules and regulations on a sign on a wall. It’s quite another to stand before a burly (sorry, friendly but firm!) Immigration Officer and sign a pledge. Nowhere to hide.

Thank you, Palau. I do.

my palau pledge
My Palau Pledge