Palau has become the first country in the world to ask visitors to sign a conservation pledge on entry, which is stamped in their passports.
The 160,000 tourists who each year visit Palau now have to make a compulsory promise, directly to the island’s children, before they can enter the island of 20,000 inhabitants, AAP reports.
The pledge, which aims to preserve the country’s vibrant culture and the beauty of its natural environment, was considered necessary after careless behaviour from visitors started to erode Palau’s pristine environment.
Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, The Rolling Stones and former US secretary of state John Kerry have already taken the pledge. Action can be taken against those who break the conditions, with fines of up to $US1 million for offenses committed.
Palau has a long history of world-firsts in conservation. It was the first country to create a shark sanctuary in its national waters, it was the first to ban the destructive practice of bottom trawling, and in 2015, its leadership created the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, the largest fully-protected, no-take zone in the world.