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French Polynesia tourism industry sinks again In October

October produced year-on-year fewer tourists in nearly all of Tahiti’s major markets, according to the latest tourism report from the French Polynesia Statistical Institute (ISPF). That included 1,725 fewer Americans, 862 fewer Japanese, 169 fewer Italians, 105 fewer U.K. visitors and 195 fewer South Americans.

But there were 269 more French, 168 more Australians, 132 more Belgians, 68 more Germans, 85 more New Caledonians, 11 more Spanish and seven more New Zealand tourists in October over a year ago.

North America produced fewer cruise ship passengers and hotel and family pension tourists during October, the 21st consecutive month that Tahiti’s N° 1 multi-country market has had negative results.

There were 5,550, or 18 percent, fewer cruise ship passengers and 1,400, or 35 percent fewer land tourists during the month. The result was 5,216 overall visitors -4,628 Americans and 588 Canadians. Compared with the 7,208 overall visitors a year ago -6,353 Americans and 855 Canadians- there were 1,992, or 27.6 percent fewer overall visitors – 1,725, or 27.2 percent fewer Americans and 267, or 31.2 percent fewer Canadians.

North America

Tahiti welcomed 53,420 North American visitors during the first 10 months of 2008. Compared with the 61,300 overall total a year ago, there were 7,880, or 12.9 percent fewer North Americans this year – 7,982, or 14.4 percent fewer Americans, but 102, or 1.7 percent more Canadians.

North America’s market share of all Tahiti’s tourists between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 was 31.7 percent compared with 33.2 percent a year ago. For the U.S., the market share dropped from 29.9 percent last year to 28.1 percent this year, while the Canadian share rose from 3.2 percent last year to 3.6 percent this year.

France produced 269 more Tahiti visitors in October over a year ago, thanks to 304, or 85 percent more French cruise ship passengers, who made up 14 percent of all cruise ship passengers, the ISPF report noted.

However, hotel and family pension visitors from France were slightly less (-35), French visitors staying with family and friends were down 15 percent (-232), but those paying for their accommodations were up 8 percent.

As Tahiti’s N° 2 individual country market after the U.S.A., France has been a stable market since Jan. 1, producing a 10-month total of 36,262 visitors, 44, or 0.1 percent more than the 36,218 visitors for the same period last year. As a result, France’s share of all Tahiti’s tourists during those 10 months increased slightly to 21.5 percent from 19.6 percent a year ago.

The October increase in French visitors combined with the fewer American visitors put the N° 2 France only 21 visitors behind the N° 1 U.S.A.—4,628 Americans vs. 4,607 French.

However, for the first 10 months the U.S. market’s N° 1 ranking was not in jeopardy -47,368 Americans vs. 36,262 French, a difference of 11,106.

Air Tahiti Nui’s suspension of a weekly Papeete-Tokyo-Osaka flight left the Tokyo route with nearly 30 percent fewer seats, which was linked to October’s 42.7 percent drop in Japanese visitors.

Air Tahiti Nui’s Tokyo route has had only two weekly flights since Sept. 29. For Tahiti’s N° 4 individual country market, October contributed to the 19 percent fewer Japanese tourists over the first 10 months of 2008.

There were 1,157 Japanese visitors in October, a drop of 862, or 42.7 percent from the 2,019 Japanese a year ago. During the 10-month period, Japan produced 16,009 tourists for Tahiti, 3,752, or 19 percent fewer than the 19,761 visitors for the same period last year. Japan’s share of all Tahiti’s visitors dropped during those 10 months from 10.7 percent last year to 9.5 percent this year.

Europe (France excluded)
Europe, excluding France, produced 3,915 Tahiti visitors in October, 112, or 2.8 percent, fewer than the 4,027 visitors a year ago.

However, the European market’s relative stability hides a drop of 496, or 14 percent in the number of land-based tourists visiting Tahiti in October along with 384, or 65 percent more cruise ship passengers, the ISPF noted. For example, it noted that 61 percent of the Belgians and 71 percent of the Austrians were cruise ship passengers in October.

This European market produced 35,580 Tahiti visitors during the first 10 months of 2008, a drop of 1,201, or 3.3 percent from the 36,781 visitors for the same period last year. While 2007 was a record year for this market, this year’s results remain better than the years 2000-2006, the ISPF noted.

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