We Are BCET!
The Babeldaob Community Eco-Tours (BCET) is a program promoting the unity of conservation, communities, and sustainability travel to experience natural itself and currently consisting of representatives and community members of 4 states in the big island of Babeldaob, in particular the states of Aimeliik, Ngatpang, Ngardmau and Ngaraard. The definition for Eco-Tourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves education” with an emphasis on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness within common interpretation that promotes greater understanding and appreciation for nature and the local society through culture and historical sites. In summary, it is tourism to areas of ecological interest (typically exotic and often threatened natural environments), especially to support conservation efforts and observed endangered environmental surroundings in a controlled manner so as to have the least possible undesirable effect.”
In 2015, Palau experienced a high influx of tourists from overseas. The island realized great economic growth, however, the huge influx of visitors disrupted the tranquility and peacefulness of the island causing social and environmental concerns among the people of Palau. As a result of such terrible experience, the Government of the Republic of Palau turned its attention to the concept of quality tourism instead of quantity. Thus with close partners, Palau along with the The Nippon Foundation and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to promote an environmentally conscious tourism in Palau early this year on February 26, 2019.
Based on the MOU, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation started a project for balancing economic benefit and conservation of nature and culture with two pillars; (1) Tourism Carrying Capacity Surveys in the Rock Islands South Lagoon with the Koror State Government for introducing objective and effective management method at tourist spots, and (2) Community Based Eco-Tourism in the big island of Babeldaob with participating states about four years ago in April 2016.
Since then, participating states’ representative trained on the (1) Concept of “Community Based Eco-Tourism”, (2) Method in seeking out tourism assets from local people’s livelihood including nature, culture, history, mythology, and local food, (3) Way to create tour plans by connecting such assets with themes, stories and local guides, and (4) Management including food handling through three training programs in Japan, community workshops in participating states and workshops with state representatives.
The four states completed the whole procedures while the other states partially joined such training programs and workshops. Accordingly, the group looks forward to assisting the other states and communities into joining the program in the future. As such, not only will the Babeldaob Community Eco-Tour provide a small additional revenue to the States but in particular the proceeds will basically trickle down to benefit the people at the community level.
BCET proudly offers the community based eco-tourism to responsible tourists all over the world. State members and the community are sure that friends from abroad will taste, touch and experience authentic Palau with community members.
The members of BCET