Palau's digital residency program is making waves - with Jay Hunter Anson

Palau's digital residency program is making waves - with Jay Hunter Anson

Full Transcript

Curtis Duggan: Hey everybody. Welcome back to Remotely Sirius. I'm Curtis Duggan and my conversation today is with Jay Hunter Anson. He's the director of the Digital Residency Program in Palau. It's actually interesting, we may have discovered in talking with Jay that the digital residency program in Palau may one of the best, most effective.

Digital nomad visa programs in the world. On previous episodes, we've talked about how certain digital nomad visa programs or remote work visa programs aren't the best or most flexible for digital nomads. And it looks like the program of which Jay is a big part in Palau is really nailing it there. The criteria and how it works is something that I think will be of great interest to digital nomads and remote workers.

So we'll talk about that program. We'll talk about Lau. And yeah, let's jump in.

Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Remotely Serious Podcast. This is a really exciting episode because I'm talking to someone that I've been following on Twitter and I've been listening to on other podcasts for quite some time. And it's Jay Anson, the director of the Palau Digital Residency Program. Jay, welcome to the show.

First of all, I've been a big fan of yours for I, I guess it's going on a year and a half.

Jay Hunter Anson: Hey, thanks a lot Curtis. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here and just share a little bit about my experiences and what we're trying to do with the Digital Residency program. Thanks for having me.

Curtis Duggan: Yeah, so let's talk about Palau, first of all, and for those that aren't necessarily familiar with exactly the geography of some of these countries in Micronesia or the South Pacific, is it fair to say Jay, if you go north from New Guinea or you go east from the Philippines in the area of the Pacific Ocean, if you travel there a few hundred miles, you will find this archipelago of islands.

That is the sovereign nation of Palau in that general area of the South Pacific.

Jay Hunter Anson: Yes. Yeah. That's a fair assessment. It's if you spin the globe too fast you'll, you will miss it. But yeah, you can triangulate and find it. We're in Oceanic country, so you know where, whereas a lot of countries look at landmass we count our 300 mile ex economic exclusionary zone out from the landmass out, out 300 miles and surrounding Palau is considered, part of our country.

So we're very in tune and connected with the ocean. It's a big part of our culture and our way of life. And so it's about the size of maybe France or Texas, if you look at it that way. So yeah, it's a great place to it, it was a great place to, to grow up and I go back there as, as often as I can two or three times a year.

I'm getting to the point now where I'm ready to move back permanently. A lot of great developments. Developments happening. In Palau right

Curtis Duggan: now. That's great. Yeah. We'll definitely get into some of those developments. I like to think about practical tips and actionable things that our listeners can do.

We expect that a lot of digital nomads and remote workers, or digital nomad or remote work, curious people are listening. So let's just one more thing on, on Palau itself in the geography. Currently, what are the ways to get there? We wanna make sure people can understand, is it something where we don't know exactly where everyone's coming from.

In fact, our listeners are from all around the world. But are there certain places like Honolulu or Tokyo or Manila or Sydney that are the main hubs that you can get to Palau from? Yeah, sure. Direct

Jay Hunter Anson: flights. Yeah. There. So there are. Okay. So for the longest coming out of Covid, the first route to open up was Guam directly to Palau on United Airlines.

And you would've to get to Guam. And then they opened up Manila to Palau. Essentially what the plane would do is go from Guam, stop in Palau, drop folks off, pick folks up, fly 'em to Manila, and then turn around. It was a airbus route, if you will. Now we have, and so that's the route I would take.

So I'm in, I live in Florida, south Florida, so I go from Fort Lauderdale to Houston to Honolulu. About a 45 minute layover in, in Honolulu, just enough time to get some fresh, aloha air and then back in the airplane to Guam. But now they have a route from Taipei directly into Palau that's a little bit better route.

So it, it connects just better connections for just all across Asia. And it lands at a better time too. It lands, it arrives in Palau. At five in the afternoon, the United Airlines flights arrive after midnight. So that it was a little bit challenging in that sense. And then there's one more route that go it, it originates in Brisbane, Australia connects in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and then flies directly into Palau.

So o overall, we now have four routes. And there are there's a lot of great work being done by the the president and the minister of Tourism to open up more routes. Looking at Japan, probably Tokyo, and then Seoul South Korea and Singapore.

Curtis Duggan: Got it. Yeah. And if people are listening and starting to get a picture of where Palau is, I think it's also incidentally interesting to point out that I was listening to, I guess I put it this way, I was listening to or reading an article about US geopolitical interests and there was some kind of agreement or compact that was signed with the United States.

And so suffice to say this is a part of the world that is very important and is essentially a geopolitical I don't wanna say hotspot. We don't want a hotspot, we don't want war, we don't want bad things. But it's a strategically interesting spot for the interests of the US and the interests of China.

And so it looks like Palau has been working on some publicly announced agreements with the US there. And when you think about connections to Guam and Taipei it's certainly a beautiful part of the world, but also one that may might be in the news more and more. And you've certainly been in the news for your digital residency program as well.

Jay Hunter Anson: Yes. Yeah. I, yeah, I appreciate you touching on that aspect of it. It is we've been under some type of strategic relationship with the United States from a de defense standpoint since the end of World War ii first as a trust territory, and then up until gaining independence.

And so we've had. Several iterations of a compact to free association with the us So US citizens can travel to Palau and stay up to a year and apply to stay longer if they wish, and vice versa. Palauans are free to travel and work anywhere in the United States. And in exchange for that we also get some developmental dollars for, to help with infrastructure.

Roads, ports, the airport et cetera. And then the US has basing and defense rights. Internationally recognized with Palau. So in the event of different either technological or natural disasters, for example they can use Palau as a base of operation. God forbid if a war or something were to happen, then same thing.

The US would use Palau. For basing operations. There, there's a small so there's a civic action team in Palau. I don't know the exact number. I wanna say between maybe 40 and 50 United States service members that are stationed there from across all the different services.

And they do a lot of partnership cooperations with the local government and local law enforcement. Just training patrolling of the economic exclusionary zone and just different activities to help with security and things of that nature.

Curtis Duggan: So you've got this very, beautiful location.

Beautiful culture, strategically important area that Palau is occupying. Yeah. And now you have created this digital residency program, and it's something that. I think it was Estonia that established the first brand for this years ago. Yes. Even before the pandemic in Eastern Europe. Estonia. I don't wanna say.

Yeah. They pioneered, I'll say they pioneered the concept of someone who's not necessarily a citizen or a resident in the physical sense. Not necessarily someone who's a, someone who got a visa to come get a job with a local employer, but just someone from outside of Estonia who wants to make use of certain.

Estonian services like setting up a corporation or banking with a bank remotely, perhaps coming to Estonia, but perhaps not spending very much time in Estonia at all the Estonia e residency or digital residency that has been around there for several years. What prompted Palau's entry into this concept?

Because I, I think one thing, one more thing I'll say is this is slightly different than. What we sometimes discuss, which is a digital nomad visa or a remote work visa where someone establishes they have a certain income and then agrees to immigrate to a country like Croatia or Portugal or Costa Rica with a digital nomad visa, and then they come.

They may or may not pay local income tax. Often they don't. The ALLOW program seems to be something that's more global and portable and doesn't necessarily require immigration. It seems like it's popular so far. Far. I saw that you had surpassed 7,000 yes. Approved applicants. Yes. So it seems like it's going well.

Jay Hunter Anson: Yes. Yeah. We're, we are gaining some momentum as a lot of people who, who've been interested in the program are now seeing that it's here to stay. It's been around for more than a year. We're getting a lot more government. It's a government. First of all, as an official government run program, there's a law that established the digital residency program.

This isn't a private entity's scheme or business venture or anything like that. So the what what really what sparked the interest was with, a lot of palauans and palauan government leadership. They were looking at what was going on. With Hong Kong and other financial hubs in that part of the world, right?

So what, and what they saw was, there was a little bit of turmoil with and competition with China. And there was a lot of like new restriction. It was becoming more and more restrictive to do business and travel to and live in those different financial hubs. So they were really first looking at the FinTech aspect of it.

Maybe creating Palau building Palau up into a financial hub. They finally got a Pau finally got a a fiber optic cable. They had been satellite based for so long. They finally got a satellite cable in 2015, or not, I'm sorry, a fiber optic cable in 2015. So they have the high speed internet.

They have a fiber ring that goes around the island. They're in the process of upgrading the network. The Paw National Communications Corporation has a grant from the United States to do that. And they have a second fiber optic cable that'll provide redundancy.

So they really looked at it strategically and economically and said, why not try to build this up? But then covid happened. Palau immediately shut their borders to protect everybody. They were one of the few. Countries that they like during the height of the pandemic, there was no covid in Palau because they did that.

But unfortunately what that did was it, it negatively impacted tourism. Tourism was between 50 to 70% of Palau's economy between the the entry visa fees, the. Hotels restaurants taxes that were collected. So really negative impact on pullout. The so coming out of Covid the blockchain and crypto and those spaces were starting to run and gain more popularity, find other.

Other innovations, other innovative ways to diversify the economy. And what our current President, president Whips did was he really dug in and did a close study of what is involved with this. If he ever listened to his his podcast and some of the interviews where he's talking about, he's very knowledgeable about the industry.

And the innovation and the potential that it has and everything that can be done. They had a couple of bills introduced and they remodeled after the Estonia e residency program. They, they just have a fantastic program. They've been at it for years. It's another one that's there to stay.

A lot of folks, when they come to the Palau, Digital resume program. They don't find what they like. We absolutely recommend, hey, if you're looking for business registry or something like that, go to Estonia or go to federated states of Micronesia. They have a corporate registry. Now but I digress.

So going back to. Oh, how it evolved. We got the digital residency law in passed, and then in it took us a couple of months to get fully operational, but by February of 2021 2022 we had the program up and running and we were signing up digital residence. I didn't come on board until June.

As the director we had about, 700 digital residents at that point. And then we made some tweaks to the AML/KYC software we were using. Just, just tuning and make, getting the program where it needed to be to really hit our pace with onboarding digital residents and it's just slowly grown and Gain momentum.

We're steadily saying about between 25 to 50 signups per day. And we're working in parallel to that to get the marketplace set with more ancillary services that digital residents are looking for.

Curtis Duggan: Yeah, I'm seeing that the POW ID is. Accepted by some brands that are on the website, California DMV, T-Mobile, Airbnb, Hyatt, c v s, Turkish Airlines, Costco.

I love shopping at Costco. So that's that. That's great. It's not just something that's used to go to the bank in Palau or go somewhere locally in Palau. There are these brands that are accepting it as a global, globally accepted id. Part of that seems to be these. Partnerships, or I shouldn't say partnerships, but these associations or memorandums with the with web three entities or crypto exchanges.

And I know that a couple years ago they were very popular. You list exchanges like and Kraken and BitMEX Wise, the payments transfer company, these are all listed on your site. How has it been in the last few years where two years ago it might've been very popular and unambiguously seen as a sort of technologic technology forward thing to associate with certain crypto companies in recent?

In the post F d X world and in recent times, certainly the United States, ss e c, has gone after exchanges in the US and the brand of certain crypto exchanges and web three in general is maybe in a bit of a wane or in a bit of a winter period. How have you. Dealt with that where something that was very shiny two years ago in terms of a brand is now a little bit tarnished.

Does that factor into your strategy and what overall is the is the goal of associating this with Web three and blockchain technologies as opposed to just having it in AAU database on a server without any crypto, without any blockchain, without any web three? What's the strategy

Jay Hunter Anson: there?

Yeah so the strategy has always been, To, to leverage the security of the blockchain, right? So what a lot of folks so there's a lot of I, I call them so I was in the military and we used to call them barracks, lawyers. A lot of people who think they understand.

The technology and they go into these, the Discord servers and telegram chat rooms and they're just giving out really bad advice. That's good. Some of them are probably trolls. I don't know, they, so

Curtis Duggan: I too have encountered trolls on the internet. They're,

Jay Hunter Anson: yeah, they're everywhere, but Yeah.

But yeah, there, so there's a lot of, there, there's a lot of bad advice. So again, this is the government. Program reach out to the government officials running the program. We have a, an excellent service provider encrypted labs that runs the R N S I D, and they will give you the honest truth on what is possible and what's not possible.

The problem is there are a lot of people who want to use the card. To circumvent different things. And it's really just not possible at this point. And it won't be because we have a lot of, it's a government entity. Palau is a a good steward of regulations and laws. And so we're not looking at providing a service where you can circumvent the laws and regulations of your own country.

We're trying to provide a. A globally accepted identification and platform so that you can do different, you can have access to different services that maybe aren't available in your country. So for example we're. We're almost done promulgating the mailing service regulation.

And so if you live in a country that doesn't accept Amazon, or Amazon doesn't ship to you can get this mailing address and you can have. Packages and letters and mail forwarded you can have we want to get to a point where, depending on the success of that service do the digital scanning of people's mail and send it to them.

So it's, it's faster cheaper. And it's just more available globally.

Curtis Duggan: And so does this work for the K Y C, is it such that if someone has gone through professional high standard K Y C PRO, and maybe just for our listeners, K Y C is an acronym that stands for Know, your know Your Customer, which is in the financial sector and in financial industries and in FinTech industries.

It's basically the idea that. You can't just give banking and crypto services out to anyone, nations and states and jurisdictions will regulate who you, who can have a checking account or a securities product or a stock brokerage, et cetera, et cetera, including with crypto. Getting back to K Y C, so K y C, know your customer.

If someone has gone through the K Y C process on Kraken or Wise, or is the process then that they can sign on through that or leverage that, almost like you sign in with Google or sign in with Facebook to a website, the k yc they've gone through on kraken and can support their Palau application.

Is that how you're leveraging the, is that one of these

Jay Hunter Anson: cases? Yeah, it's actually the other way around. So those platforms accept the Palau id because I see. Thank you. Yeah. We provide the K Y C. Service already. So if you apply to one of those platforms with the Palau id, they, there's already a memorandum of understanding that hey they, they've accepted our standards for due diligence and know your customer and anti-money laundering screening to and so they'll it just makes it easier.

The other thing with with the card, just so there's we're we're, we just finished beta testing the NFT and there's a I guess a competition right now that we're asking for artwork to design. We're asking for NFT artists to design what the digital ID will look like.

That Has been extended to the 24th. So we're lo we're receiving submissions. We're really excited. A lot of great work is being submitted, but if you're, if you are listening and you have an idea and you want to design something and send it to the RNSID team we look forward to getting even a larger portfolio of artwork to, to choose from.

So there's the digital ID and then the hard copy I, driver's license style ID card and that ID card itself. There's, if you go. And Google anti-counterfeiting technology that can go into a ID card. It's all in there from micro printing to the hologram to just like all of the different the chip, the, it's very secure and just the latest technology.

Is integrated into that cart. That's another reason why it's accepted. It's all the security not just the then, not just the. The AML/KYC, but the card itself it cannot be counterfeited. Got it. So the the other thing was for the AML/KYC it's, there's very strict laws in Palau.

I had mentioned that we had tried to, we, so we submitted two bills to Congress back in the fall of 2021. One was the digital residency program. The other one was, A corporate registry bill, that bill wasn't passed because it just didn't have enough AML/KYC protections in it. The language was modeled after the Delaware corporate laws.

And, again it's before FTX, there was the thing called the Panama Papers where, you started discovering like all these shell companies that were. Based out of Delaware. And the Palau Congress didn't wanna want that to happen in Palau. They're very cognizant of the dangers of AML/KYC counter countering the financing of terrorism.

That's definitely a high priority. So the corporate registry bill is, it's been going through a couple of iterations of Being redrafted. Unfortunately we've had a turnover in legal advisors over the past year, but the core registry bill is back with my office and I'm working with a paralegal to redraft the outline.

And we're gonna, we're modeling it after, just like we modeled the digital residency program after Estonia's e residency program. We're looking at Federated states of Micronesia and the British Virgin Islands looking at their corporate registries because they have a lot of AML/KYC digital assets things of that nature baked into their programs.

And it's exactly, the route we want to go. So until we get ours online, definitely check theirs out. If it works for you along with the Estonia e residency, By all means. It's a, it's an entire community and we're all just trying to use the technology that's in play now with the blockchain and everything to like be more, more global and more remote.

Curtis Duggan: What is the ultimate goal or a second or third phase of success? A first phase. MVP is definitely to build out the technology, make it. High grade security and then count the signups that are coming in. And that seems to be growing and growing. Is the, is there an ultimate goal of this entire program to say, have people come and get comfortable with Palau as a digital resident, maybe moving a mailbox or a bank account, or using the ID for certain services like Airbnb and then because they have this association with.

High quality services and a forward-thinking technological program for governance in the id, in the residency program that they might move to Palau, start a business in Palau, become a taxpayer of Palau. Is it thought of that way as a funnel for people eventually physically becoming a resident in the end?

Jay Hunter Anson: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. No, that, that's a great question. And that's we're, what we're looking at. Yeah, we started with the technology. I explained, the technology and the card we're using the blockchain. Of course. Our first regulation was a cybersecurity regulation.

We wanted digital residents and everyone involved or interested in the program to know. A, this is exact, it's spelled out exactly how we protect your data and what we do with it. Which is really, we store it. We don't do anything with it. It's there as a backup to what's located on the blockchain.

And then there's, if you go on the RNSID website, they have under the terms and of use and there's, it spells out exactly. How they use the data to help provide better services. Really, but not nothing is sold, nothing is traded. We do penetration testing and vulnerability assessments of all of our technology to make sure that it's safe and secure and can't be hacked or breached.

So then the next thing we did is we took a look at Palau's immigration laws there. So there's no path to citizenship right now. The only way to be a citizen of Palau is by birth. So we took a look at, okay what are we doing for what's there what exists now that we can take a look at and maybe use to help digital residents especially the digital nomad community.

It's a huge community of folks who, you know I love that lifestyle of just being able to. Hey, you know what I'm in Croatia from May to August September. It starts getting a little chilly. By October. I want to go somewhere warm pick up and go to Thailand or go to I don't know, Singapore.

Why not come to Palau? But the immigration laws didn't allow that and there was no. Desire for the Golden Visa program or we didn't wanna make people prove that you have hundreds of thousands of dollars income every year, or you have $10,000 in your bank account because then that's gonna put a strain on the government to stand up those.

Those programs, right? If you can buy a plane ticket to pal out, you have money. It's not that cheap. But at the same time, if you get to Palau, you don't wanna just stay there. You, after you're spending all that money, you probably don't wanna stay there just for a week or two weeks.

You want to get, the more bang for your buck. That's where we thought digital nomads, the way they operate, work remotely. It was a perfect program to try and support. So we've amended the immigration regulations for Palau to allow digital residents who are digital nomads to, they can apply for up to two 90 day.

Extensions passed, whatever their visa on arrival is. And it varies from country to country. If you're, you have a Japanese passport, for example, you can, you, your visa on arrival is good for 30 days. Now you can extend for 90 and if you wanna stay longer, another 90 if you're from one of the European Union countries, it's 90 days.

So you know the same thing. European Union, you can potentially stay in Palau. Help me with my math. Yeah. 270 days. And then, if you're from Japan, you can stay up to a hundred and so

Curtis Duggan: The digital residency, yeah. Program with this amendment in combination with some baseline visa essentially means that people can come to Palau, stay somewhere between a month and even all the way up to what it sounds like, six or seven months based on some of the baseline countries, and they can work from their laptop.

Yeah, that's legal, that's on side. Yes. And they can and they will not be subject to, to income tax as well during their time there, or will they be subject to income tax?

Jay Hunter Anson: If they decide to get a job in Palau, then, they'll pay Palau taxes, but if their job, they, their job is in Germany and they're just living in Palau for six months.

And they just pay whatever their country charges them.

Curtis Duggan: Yeah. You know what I'm thinking, Jay, as I listen to this, I think this is really the best digital nomad visa in the world, and I'll tell you why. Just the reason is because, I don't know if you've been following this, but there's this debate about digital nomad visas in remote work visas.

So I referenced them, I think once it's already on this episode, but separate from digital residency programs, there are these digital nomad visas that are more like, Apply. Give us your information, prove your income, and you can quasi emigrate here. When I say here, it could be Croatia or Portugal or Costa Rica.

Like I mentioned, there's probably 30 or 40 or more like this and it, but it's really, it's about immigrating and. Moving from your home country cutting ties with your tax residency in your home country, whether let's say the UK or Canada or somewhere, right? And then coming over and resettling in Portugal on a digital nomad visa for one year.

What Digital Nomads complaint about is we really just want something that isn't about making a huge commitment for a full year. We wanna be able to legally. We used to be doing in a gray area. 'cause that's what, that's the, that's what's the, that's the elephant in the room and the history of digital nomads in the last six or seven or 10 years is, for a long time they were just doing it on tourist visas and Right.

Hoping people look the other way. Yeah. What digital nomads want. What I've had full, a half of an episode talking with a digital nomad, a advocate on this is we just want this to be simple. We wanna come in, we maybe wanna stay three or four months, but we d we don't want to have to worry about.

Committing for a year and then renewing for another year. Oh, this sounds like exactly what digital nomads keep saying. They want the programs to be like. But if you examine some of the other South American, Caribbean, and European programs, they're not quite like this. They're more onerous, they're a little bit more of a commitment and this seems to offer some flexibility to simply come in and out for 60 days or 90 days, obviously.

Pending, or based on whatever your baseline allowance is under, on the underlying law of Japan versus the EU versus

Jay Hunter Anson: canada, et cetera. Yes. No, that, that's exactly right. So Palau is open to all countries, with the exception of North Korea and Iran. And that's based on Plaza, a member of the United Nations and our compact to free association.

We in that sense because they're, they openly support terrorism. That's why they're blacklisted from Palau. But any other country, if you have a passport, You can fly to pull out and a visa on arrival. You don't have to go to an embassy and apply for a visa. You don't have to pay anything for a visa.

You just buy your plane ticket. You arrive in, pull out. And they will tell you how long your visa on arrival is. And so with the digital residency program, if you're a Palau digital resident with a Palau Digital Residency ID card, and your passport, you can fly to Palau. If you get there your, say your visa on arrival is good for 30 days.

After about three weeks, you're like, you know what, this is really chill. Internet's good. I can keep working. While I'm here in, in Tropical Paradise Bonus, if you're a scuba diver, Palau is one of the, it's the seventh underwater wonder of the world for a reason. There's a lot of just awesome sea life and undersea and creatures.

It's a shark sanctuary, sea turtle sanctuary. National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 80% of that economic exclusionary zone. So it's a protected marine sanctuary. There's what Jellyfish lake? Lot of, I can go on and on about the diving there. I love diving and pullout. I've I'm, I may be biased, but I've dove in, a couple dozen other countries.

Doesn't compare. Sorry. Probably the great Mayan Reef in, in Mexico. Yeah. Off of Cozumel. Comes close. But yeah, pal plow is just, is great. So if you get to p plow, you wanna stay there, then you go to the immigration office, say, Hey I have a digital resident ID card. Here's my passport, here's my digital resident ID card.

I wanna stay another 90 days. And you don't have to stay there the whole 90 days. If after 60 days you wanna leave, or after another month something comes up, there's no obligation. You can go ahead and leave. Then once you leave, you can come back and then do your visa on arrival, start the clock again, and then apply for your 90 days.

90 days. If you go and you stay the whole visa on arrival, plus the two 90 days, then you have to break up your stay. And leave, unless there's some other situation or circumstance that the immigration regulation allows for you to stay longer. Like you, you get employment or something or you lease land and say, you know what?

I just wanna stay here for a couple more years. So it is it is super, super flexible. And what you mentioned is exactly the positive feedback and the recommendations that we were getting from the digital nomad community to really simplify. Change to the regulation to make it flexible for the digital nomad community.

Curtis Duggan: So for our listeners who are planning vacations, planning their next trip and essentially, this is a form of destination marketing. It's funny, I was at the running remote conference in Lisbon and I'm starting to see more of destinations. Actively going out and undertaking the same kinds of activities that tourism boards would do.

Tourism boards obviously go out and market, the Costa Brava and Croatia and Japan and all the, in all kinds of places. Mexico, Maui, they go out and market these places. A tourist destinations and Digital nomad and remote work destinations used to be somewhere that was talked about, or you got information about on internet forums or on websites where other nomads were talking about it.

But now more and more countries and cities and destinations are actively creating campaigns. So with that kind of thing in mind, like we're doing destination marketing for a practical workation going from the, so the vision is scuba diving, tropical paradise, easy high tech. You fly in, no hassle and you can get going and enjoying your life and enjoying the weather, and enjoying the culture for a couple months.

Practically though, let's say someone's planning this what does it look like in terms of accommodations and coworking spaces? What can people expect? Is it a country that has large hotels or is it more something where you might go seek out a short-term rental in someone's home? Or are there resorts, there's all, we see it in, in places with nice weather.

We see all kinds of. Strategies for accommodation all across the board from super authentic, stay in someone's home to a completely purpose-built all-inclusive resort. When you think of Mexico or Cuba or that kind of thing, What can people expect practically in terms of, I wanna spend two or three months in Palau what, budgets differ, but what, on a a decent middle class, they have to be reasonably well off in earning some income in order to go take a trip to Palau.

But what can they expect from the accommodations that are available? No,

Jay Hunter Anson: It really runs the gamut of what you mentioned. There's Airbnb there, there's Very high five star luxury resorts with all the amenities. Or you can rent a one bedroom apartment or a studio and go that route.

Where you're actually living there paying your own utility bill and you're just living as you would anywhere else. Everywhere has internet cell phone service is pretty good. You it's four G is the max. Depending on where you're at, there's wifi that you can connect to pretty much everywhere.

Like I said they're in the process of modernizing the cell phone network. And they're, they've been just constantly extending the fiber optic backbone everywhere. So it's it's gonna be to the point where, You land and get off the plane, and you don't even have to go, you don't have to go to the pout, national Communications booth in the airport and get a sim card.

Your phone should just switch over just like when you fly from the US to The Bahamas or anywhere else. And your carrier already has an agreement in place. So you just start roaming.

Curtis Duggan: Got it. Do people come to the, to when people visit, do they generally come and stay within urban areas on the biggest island or islands?

Or do they spread out to some of the i,

Jay Hunter Anson: There's,

Curtis Duggan: is consistency of more g across all the islands or are there places where it's like, Hey, if you wanna work, You need to think about being here versus there. Just in terms of the four

Jay Hunter Anson: G with the, so the cell tower is the cell phone network is a little bit, is different from the fiber network.

So if you're, again, it just depends. Yeah. If you're, if your, like phone call, if your work requires you to be on the phone a lot, then probably corro the former capital, it's the most Densely populated and they're, they have a lot of accommodations and hotels there.

But I'll tell you that when, tourists come in or digital nomads come in to pull out now, it runs a gamut from, they're either hauling all this scuba gear with camera equipment or just the regular families there for family vacation, or people just, they, they bring nothing but a backpack and they're gonna go.

Out to, and, some of the more remote areas of Palau and either camp or just rent. They have bungalows mangrove bungalows. They have just a whole different whole of very wide variety of places to live. There. There are over so before Covid, we had a little over 50,000 tourists every year.

Visit Palau that number is slowly rising. I think we have, we're at about 14% now of that. And with the opening of the different air routes it's slowly increasing. But there's also a pretty large expat community in Palau of around 2000 expats from all over the world. It's very safe.

It's they're very friendly to foreigners it. They're very friendly to tourists. Everyone's very warm, very accepting. You have your, when there, there's almost no like capital crime in pullout. If there's a murder or something of that nature. It is a big deal because it's almost unheard of.

Paul was so small. It's really. You can't. I grew up there. You can't, commit a crime and get away with it. Someone will see you and someone will tell your mom, and then you're gonna be in, in big trouble. So it's it's a very tight-knit community.

They're very welcoming. Of outsiders. They love sharing their culture and their island. And so like as for digital nomads, it's gonna be one of the better experiences I think

Curtis Duggan: as maybe we get close to wrapping up here. Is there anything about the cuisine or the culture of Palau that's just a.

A must do. Don't miss it. Have a certain dish, try a certain activity that is authentic and can really help someone who's if someone's, first weekend in Palau, they've set up the internet, they've walked around, they bought some groceries, they've done their, they've had their meetings.

They're on a workation and it's Saturday, and they really wanna just say, I'd like to go, I want to get. The best entry point into Palauan culture, what should they do on that, that first weekend?

Jay Hunter Anson: So there's a night market at the Japan Palau Friendship Bridge. But that's I believe it's every Friday I.

Friday night and Saturday night, if I'm not mistaken. But, just, going there, they usually have a lot of cultural dances live entertainment. And then the different arts and crafts. Again, people are very friendly. If you strike up a conversation with them and, ask them about Palau they're happy to tell you, happy to share with you.

As far as food. There's just if you love seafood, you're gonna be in heaven. A, anything from the, fresh lobsters, fresh fish, clam, you name it. It's there and it's prepared really deliciously and many of the restaurants in Palau, and then there's also the bazaar, like if you're the guy that eats the weird stuff Andrew Zimmerman.

So fruit Bat is actually Fruit Bat soup is a popular dish with palauans. And so if you're an adventurous eater and want to try that you can get it in many of the restaurants in Palau, the, but there the cuisine, it's. It's like there's Japanese, Chinese and there's a really nice Indian restaurant.

Other than that, any, anything you can find in the US or other parts of the world that they'll have it

Curtis Duggan: in pout. That's a amazing place to end off this episode. Just hearing about the Japan and Palau friendship bridge. I really hope in the decades to come.

We Palau can grow and grow it. Its its brand, if I can use the marketing term but really grow this program and have more digital nomads and remote workers come to this region. And in, in 22 years we'll be celebrating a hundred years of friendship and peace in in the Pacific.

And and really seeing this part of the world become somewhere where if in a world where we all have Apple Vision pros on our heads and we can work from anywhere. We can work from Palau and that'll be a great place. So I've got a bright vision of visiting Palau in the coming in the coming year.

And also,

Jay Hunter Anson: lemme know where you're going.

Curtis Duggan: Oh yeah, I definitely will. Yeah it's one of those things when I was at running remote and Lisbon, I went to a. Presentation by the team from Buenos Aires, and I was thinking, no, Buenos Aires is interesting. I may go to Argentina sometime, but then by the end of the presentation I was like, oh, I, I want to go there sooner now because they've sold me on it.

And I think the same thing has happened here where if I thought I was going to Palau in the next couple years, now it's like, how can I go in the next year just hearing about this all the progress of this program and then just the vision of of a workation in Palau seems very enticing.

Absolutely. Thanks so much, Jay. I really appreciate it. Is if people want to see you on the internet or follow you on the internet, is there somewhere that they should go to follow your work?

Jay Hunter Anson: Yeah, de definitely. R That's the website for where you can follow and register or just get on the MA mailing list.

We have over 90,000. Folks registered on the mailing list and then, slowly but surely they're submitting their applications to become digital residents. We also have a government website. It's Palau We put program information, and we also publish all of our.

Regulations that we're passing for the different services. In particular, the the change to the immigration regulation is on there. It spells out exactly what digital residents. Are eligible to do now. So thank you very much. Thanks for having me. Really appreciate the time.

Curtis Duggan: We'll add that to the show notes.

Thanks Jay so much, and have a great night.