Remengesau discusses military tourism with President-elect Whipps

ISLAND TIMES – by Bernadette Carreon December 8, 2020

Outgoing President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said that he has discussed with President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. for a continued collaborative partnership with the United States, that included US military personnel filling the tourism void.
In an interview, Remengesau said like everyone else, Palau will face the COVID-19 challenges in 2021 but he is confident that the incoming president will do “what needs to be done” to weather the impact of the pandemic.
“Let me first say, I share the belief that President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. can, and will do what needs to be done,” Remengesau said.
With the tourism industry devastated by the border closures, the president said visits from the US military should be welcomed.
Remengesau said with the continued partnership with the U.S. Palau can also benefit from “mutually beneficial infrastructure projects.”
Earlier, President Remengesau has urged the U.S. to build military facilities in Palau, including port facilities, secondary airfields, law enforcement training grounds and maritime enforcement and surveillance facilities.
The offer was made during the visit of former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Palau in August.
He reiterated the same offer to US Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite during his visit in mid-October.
He said that infrastructure projects would not only increase the military presence of the U.S. here but could also spur economy, which has been upended due to the absence of tourists,
Palau’s main industry is tourism but the impact of COVID-19 has forced several tourism-related businesses to temporarily shut down.
Re-jumping the tourism in 2021 is also a challenge, but the promise of the vaccine also sparked hope for Palau to safely reopen its borders.
In a press conference last week, the president thanked the Trump administration for the promising news about the vaccine.
Remengesau said that through a good relationship and communication they are able to be eligible for the vaccine.
He added that Palau will be getting the vaccine before some countries.
“This is not a little thing and that we should acknowledge the fact that Palau can benefit from getting the vaccine at a timely manner,” he said. ( B. Carreon)

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