The COVID-19 travel pause has led the Islands of Tahiti to re-evaluate the impact that cruise ships have on the nation’s environment, leading it to introduce a new cruise strategy from January 2022.
Tahiti says that over the past 10 years, the country has doubled the number of turnaround cruises.
In 2019, cruises represented a quarter of the economic revenue linked to tourism (more than XPF 17 billion), and a third of its visitors (60,000 excursionists + 40,000 cruise passengers).
Furthermore, Tahiti welcomed turnarounds not only from companies such as Paul Gauguin Cruises, Aranui and Windstar, but also Ponant, Lindblad Expeditions, Oceania, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Silversea, and many others.
However, in 2019, the municipality of Bora Bora expressed its stand on limiting the ship’s capacity calling in its lagoon.
After discussions with the municipality, the destination concluded that the daily number of cruise passengers cannot exceed 1,200.
In its tourism development strategy, in accordance with that of the country for 10 years, Bora Bora shows its desire to favor small and medium-capacity vessels in order to preserve the beauty of its lagoon as well as the quality of service which has made it famous.
This has lead to the Islands of Tahiti introducing a new strategy that will come into effect on January 1, 2022, which approves year-round turnarounds for small to medium-sized ships carrying up to 700 passengers.
Trans-Pacific turnaround ships calling at Papeete may carry up to 2,500 passengers — which is the capacity of the future new cruise terminal.
Stopovers by trans-Pacific ships calling at French Polynesia will be limited to a capacity of 3,500 passengers because larger ships put stress on maritime infrastructure and transport, as well as the environment.
Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea will be the preferred destinations for these ships.
Ships carrying more than 3,500 passengers will be refused entry as they are deemed ‘unsuitable’ for the destination.
The Islands of Tahiti say this positioning is the result of a shared vision of sustainable and inclusive development integrated into the 2021-2023 recovery plan for French Polynesia as well as in the tourism development strategy, “Fari’ira’a Manihini 2025“.
Aware of the strategic location of French Polynesia, in particular the Port of Papeete on the transpacific route, the country says exemptions may be granted, exceptionally, to vessels of higher capacity in technical transit on the islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea.
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