15 Oct 2013

Bounty replica ship and festival attempts to lure tourists to French Polynesia

5:41 pm on 15 October 2013

There are hopes a replica of the ship, The Bounty , made famous by Fletcher Christian and his mutineers, could boost tourism to French Polynesia."

Plans for the US$5 million vessel are still on the drawing board, but a company set up to market the Bounty brand hopes Bounty boat tours and an annual Bounty festival will coax more visitors to the territory which has seen a massive drop in tourist numbers.

The General Manager of Bounty Tahiti, Beni Huber told Sally Round the festival runs later this month for the first time, and in five years he hopes a replica ship will be giving tourists a vintage Bounty experience.

BENI HUBER: Our main project is to bring back the Bounty, to bring back the ship to Tahiti. We saw that here in French Polynesia we don't have anything around the Bounty topic here, we don't have a restaurant, we don't have a Bounty museum, et cetera, et cetera. The goal for the next five years is to create a small project like a museum, a Bounty museum or a Bounty tour, et cetera, et cetera, just to explore this brand. Because, for us, Bounty the brand is well-known all over the world, so we create all together a major touristic attraction for French Polynesia. We will start with our first international Bounty festival to show and to explain and to celebrate, as well, the topic around the Bounty. So during three days we have a Bounty village with different stands, booths about navigation, history. Our project, as well, will be there. We have a school which built a model of the Bounty, et cetera. We have some conferences, as well, and guest speaker Maurice Bligh from London.

SALLY ROUND: What is the significance of the Bounty for French Polynesia? What actually happened there with the ship?

BH: Exactly 225 years ago a mission from England with a boat with Captain Bligh came to Tahiti to collect the breadfruit, the famous breadfruit, to bring back to the colonies of England to feed the slaves. During the stay the people, they very much fell in love with the Tahitian people and on the way back there was the famous mutiny on the Bounty. They took control of the boat and kicked Captain Bligh out of the ship. Fletcher Christian, he brought back the ship to Tahiti to take some Tahitian ladies and settle down on Pitcairn. We also want to show that this is a real story, this is not fiction, and also that the families of the stories, they are still alive.

SR: Yes, because a lot of people know the story of Pitcairn, but French Polynesia is not so well known. How is the story portrayed at the moment in French Polynesia? Do you think they're taking advantage of this story?

"BH: Not at all. A part of the museum, James Normal, which is the writer James Norman, the famous writer who wrote the book Mutiny On The Bounty , a part of this museum we don't explore this topic. So that's why we would like right now, in the next five years, to create a major tourist attraction with a small project around it.