Report says French Polynesia tourism unprofessional
Journalist in French Polynesia says tourism to the country is suffering because French style management is smothering its personality.
A publisher in French Polynesia says tourism to the country is suffering because French style management is smothering its personality.
A new report by the general accounting court in Paris says the French Polynesian tourism sector is in crisis because of a lack of professionalism, a failure to implement a long-term strategy, and high travel costs.
The publisher of Tahiti-Pacifique magazine, Alex du Prel, says a number of hotel chains were built in the early 2000s because of a tax write-off.
He told Christopher Gilbert the hotel managers were imported from France and did not understand Tahitian culture, tainting the tourist experience.
ALEX DU PREL: When tourists come to Tahiti, they don't find the Tahiti they're looking for. The management is kind of keeping aside the local population. You don't feel like you're in French Polynesia or in Tahiti. Actually, the Cook Islands which only had 70,000 inhabitants last year got 120,000 tourists. That's almost as much as French Polynesia (140,000), which has 270,000 residents. Why, because their thing is 'come to the Cook Islands, it's like the old Tahiti'. Over here they've transformed the society and its lost its island charm.
CHRISTOPHER GILBERT: Is it because of all the big hotels that have been built?
AdP: It was a side product. I mean, every time you have a change of government (which is quite often), you have a change of minister and everything. There's never been a long-term, the report says this too, there's never been a long-term strategy for tourism. It was so much easier getting money from France than trying to attract tourists.
CG: That must be frustrating when you know the country so well and know how it could be remedied.
AdP: Yeah, for example, it was only last year the first time the president from Tahiti went to Hawaii to see how they're doing tourism. Before that it was always to Paris. Tourism in France has nothing to do with tourism on tropical islands but nobody had been to the Cook Islands or Fiji to see how they had their boom. No, no, it's always this umbilical chord, we call it the colonial helmet on the head, you know, Paris, Paris Paris. The end is we have a product that doesn't piece with what people expect out of a South Pacific island paradise.
CG: That makes quite a lot of sense in that the other Pacific islands are doing quite well, French Polynesia is not.
AdP: Well it's not only that, if you read the report, it's the same problem in Martinique, in West Indian French territories, it's actually the same problem in New Caledonia. The system that has been imported, the whole labour system, all the rules and regulations, it's slowly taking away the personality of the territories. People get stressed so they're less friendly. We've had armies of teachers coming from France saying 'what you've been doing up till now is zero' you have to do as we do in France. That's the end result, actually it's a whole society problem.
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