Paul Chai

Hundreds of lei-wearing travel professionals gathered today at the Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort, on a black-sand beach in Papeete, Tahiti to promote one of the world’s most luxurious locations.

We all know the Tahiti of overwater bungalows, celebrity honeymoons and Justin Bieber’s bare backside but one of the differences at Parau Parau Tahiti (PPT) 2018 is the depth of new product on offer.

Tourism Tahiti Chief Executive Officer, Paul Sloan, said the main difference between PPT2018 and previous Travelmarts is more local suppliers are able to attend, which supports Tahiti Tourism’s attempts to get people to head out to the less-well known islands.

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“Part of our overall global brand communication is to show the diversity of the products that we have,” Sloan said. “We keep the stuff that works great, the luxury resorts and that sort of iconic thing, but also expand the palette.”


Challenging notions of paradise

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The conference has welcomed 32 different operators from eight countries, across three continents repping over 50 percent of all travel to French Polynesia. On the home team are 47 tourism providers from all parts of the industry, including 15 who have never been to an industry gathering before.

One key theme is to challenge perceptions about the island nation, particularly in somewhere like Australia which only reps about 10 percent of the market, many put off by an old idea that Tahiti equals expensive.

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Robert Thompson, Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand, says even some Agents have this outmoded views of French Polynesia.

“It is an archaic view that Tahiti is expensive,” he said. “While Tahiti’s prices have remained steady most of our competitors have come closer to where we sit.”

But the Australian market has seen growth, primarily in areas like home rentals on sites like Tahiti Homes and Tahiti In Style.


Bora Bora & more


To challenge this view several groups of Aussie Agents set off on itineraries to the nation’s less-travelled islands before the conference. Trip highlights included the “garden island” of Huahine home to boutique hotels, pearl farms and over 1000 Tahitian maraes (sacred ruins). Agents also stayed in barefoot luxury on the island of Tikehau and visited the neighbouring motu of Fafarua, which is hired out as a (surprisingly affordable!) private island.

And they also had a night in an overwater bungalow at Le Meridien Bora Bora where some bucket lists got an extra tick, or two.

PPT runs from March 19-20.

READ: South Pacific’s sacred Marae listed as UNESCO site

READ: Island nation not just for honeymooners & lovebirds

Are you or someone you know at the first-ever PPT?