Tahiti Tourisme hosted an intimate appreciation dinner for its Sydney-based Tahiti Specialist Agents last night at Quay Restaurant in Circular Quay. The event also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the national carrier, Air Tahiti Nui.
The tourism board hosted a dinner earlier this week in Brisbane and will head to Auckland today for a dinner with New Zealand-based agents.
Addressing the audience of agents and select trade media was Caroline Brunel, Founder and Managing Director of Nouvelle Vague Marketing, the local sales and marketing representative for Tahiti Tourisme.
“One thing I wanted to share with you tonight is that the Islands of Tahiti have seen a fantastic surge of Australian tourists in 2023. From January to August, we’re up 186 per cent on 2022. All right, 2022 wasn’t the best year, let’s say! But we are on track to beat our 2019 numbers, making Australia the fifth-largest market for the islands of Tahiti.
“I think we could easily become the fourth and maybe the third. We couldn’t have achieved these results without you guys in the room, our Tahiti Specialists — you’ve taken the time to educate yourself about the destination, the culture, the nature and everything there in the Islands of Tahiti, and we want to thank you for that,” said Brunel.
“From the Masters perspective, we’ve put a bit of effort into that training program — and I know every single destination on the planet is asking you to join their Specialist Program! But it is a great way to really get to know the destination a lot more to know how to sell it. With your help, we want to welcome more visitors to the Islands of Tahiti,” she said
“We’ve been working on our long-term tourism strategy. At the core of it is sustainability. Again, it’s a bit of a buzzword you’re hearing from many destinations. But it’s truly important to the Islands of Tahiti.
“We are very committed to sustainability and to creating a tourism experience that is important for the visitors but for the host as well…. that works both ways. We aim to become the slow tourism destination, par excellence, and I think the islands of Tahiti are absolutely well positioned to answer that,” said Brunel.
Flights with Air Tahiti Nui
Newly appointed General Manager Pacific for Air Tahiti Nui, Grant Sinclair, thanked guests for joining and acknowledged the airline’s 25th anniversary — with the actual date three weeks away.
“27 years ago, the decision was made that the country needed an airline that would serve the interests of French Polynesia, and it was decided that they needed an airline that was run by Tahitians and was for Tahaitians,” said Sinclair.
“Many of you that I’ve spoken to tonight actually already understand the mana or the friendship that Air Tahiti Nui brings to its customers. That was what the airline wanted to deliver 25 years ago, and that actually hasn’t changed — these facets of the Air Tahiti Nui service have remained,” said Sinclair
“When we started 25 years ago, we started with Los Angeles, and we were flying the Airbus aircraft. Today, this part has changed. Fortunately, our aircraft aren’t the same aircraft…. the Airbus was replaced with the Dreamliner because the Dreamliner is a much more sustainable aircraft — it really fits with the whole sustainability premise that we are trying to meet for French Polynesia,” said Sinclair.
“One of the other reasons why we wanted to get together with you here tonight is because it’s Air Tahiti Nui is very traditional. We still do things the way things were done years ago, and we still value our travel agency community.
“We view the travel agency community as an integral part of our distribution. We reinforce or illustrate this by continuing to do things such as pay agents commission — and I don’t see that changing. We also still deliver travel agency wholesale commissions, and we still work to support you and build your knowledge. We’re very traditional about that, and I don’t see that changing,” said Sinclair.
Asked by an attendee if the airline would begin flying out of Sydney again, Sinclair acknowledged that the fleet is now four Dreamliners, while it had previously been five Airbus aircraft when it once flew from Sydney.
“So we actually don’t have a fleet big enough to operate to Sydney. We regularly have this conversation about Sydney and when it would be appropriate. All I can tell you is that it’s not currently on the radar, but that conversation always happens. Our focus right now is on saying that the best way for us to target those east coast gateways is to bring them over via Auckland and to make sure Auckland is performing as well as it possibly can,” he said.
He added, “In Australia, 80% of the marketing funds we allocate to co-op. We really push it through the trade. I mentioned this in Brisbane – we’re open. If you’ve got some bright idea that might shake a few apples out of the tree, email me, share your idea and we’ll thrash a few things around and see whether we can make it happen. We’re very keen to work with anyone who’s prepared to work with us,” he said.
What’s coming up
Sarah Elfassy from Nouvelle Marketing for Tahiti Tourisme shared some updates from the Islands of Tahiti.
At the international terminal, automated border control equipment is being introduced to make the passenger experience faster and smoother.
In Papeete, on the main island of Tahiti, the cruise passenger terminal is being renovated.
“It should be ready at the end of this year… the building is quite sustainable, using recovered rainwater and natural ventilation. It will be able to welcome 2,400 visitors daily,” said Elfassy.
The Islands of Tahiti will host the surfing events of the Paris 2024 Olympics in Teahupo’o from 27 July to 5 August.
The Marquesas Islands are a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 12 islands (only six inhabited) are located 1500 kilometres northeast of Tahiti.
Rita Mardirossian shared updates on the Tahiti Specialist program, thanking agents for doing the training and becoming certified specialists. Clients and consumers can look at the site and find a destination specialist.
The Modules on the training site are designed to educate clients about the Tahiti Islands.
“It’s not just about Moorea and Bora Bora — there are five archipelagos and 118 islands, so we hope we opened your mind to understanding there are many more islands,” she said.
Once agents add bookings, they go up certain levels.
“If you have travelled to the Islands of Tahiti in the last 10 years, you can put in a fam trip (it has to have been in the last 10 years), and all of this adds to your accreditation,” she said.
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