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by Aldwin R. Fajardo

KOROR, Palau (October 22, 1998 - Marianas Variety)---Work is underway to solicit the cooperation of tourism industry players, airline executives and government leaders to invigorate travel-related business activities--through a conference--in the country next month.

President Kuniwo Nakamura is inviting operators of sector-related businesses to participate in a tourism summit aimed at drafting a blueprint that would enhance further development of the country's largest revenue-generating industry.

The two-day tourism summit, proposed to be held from November 22 to 23 in Koror, is expected to generate active participation from hoteliers, restaurateurs, airline executives and other local and foreign industry players.

"The summit will focus on steps that the Republic [of Palau] and members of the tourism industry can take to encourage further development of tourism from Asian and other countries and to nurture sustainable eco-tourism in Palau," Nakamura said.

The conference will coincide with an outreach program aimed at intensifying community awareness on the travel market.

Mary Ann Delemel, Palau Visitors Authority managing director, said teams from the agency will be deployed during the Tourism Awareness Week next month to conduct discussions with ethnic communities on the merits of the industry.

At present, Palau holds the title as one of the world's leading diving sites, with the Rock Islands making up one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the Pacific.

Some of the Palauan islands are surrounded by miles of lagoons and coral reefs offering snorkeling enthusiasts the most tranquil waters in the region.

President Nakamura said both the summit and the outreach program are geared towards developing a larger, sustainable tourism industry. "This effort will serve the interests of the people of Palau and the interests of all those involved in the industry."

The president will personally chair the two-day summit, which intends to solicit the views of tourism industry players.

"I would like to encourage industry players to suggest topics for discussion during the summit.

After we determine the membership of the summit, we will invite various participants to address pertinent topics and then circulate the final agenda and schedule," he said.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Marianas Variety.

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