On 27th July, experts on Pacific island nations including Palau, scholars of environmental science and environmental laws and specialists in eco-tourism gathered at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to attend a study group meeting. The attendees include the followings:
Dr. Akio Maita, Professor, Graduate School of International Media, Communication and Tourism Studies, Hokkaido University
Dr. Takashi Mita, Associate Professor, Osaka University Institute for Academic Initiatives
Mr. Kazuyoshi Ogawa, Director, Pacific Islands Centre
Dr. Ayako Toko, Associate Professor, Faculty of Regional Development Studies, Toyo University
Mr. Yoshiki Hirabayashi, the Project Manager of Oriental Consultants Global, who conducted a one-month-preliminary-field-study in Palau, also attended the meeting. To begin the meeting, Mr. Hirabayashi presented findings of the field study conducted from April to May 2015, with his report titled "eco-tourism facilitation and tourism promotion in Palau". Click here for the presentation handout (in Japanese).
After the presentation by Mr. Hirabayashi, the attendees exchanged their views on the topic. For example, it was pointed out that organizers and participants of this project should have common understanding of "eco-tourism" since the term has indistinct definitions. It was also emphasized that it is important to know the local residents' views on environmental protection and coordinate appropriate capacity building programs in order to create mechanisms to work with the locals as main actors.
Ideas that arose during this study group meeting will be reflected on action plans to move the project forward.