Tahiti Tourism Tumbles

Tourist arrivals in French Polynesia are down 8.4% this year, falling from 124,245 visitors during the first seven months of 2007 to 113,805 in the same period in 2008. Resorts with low occupancy rates have begun laying off staff and the airlines are cutting flights. Air Tahiti Nui is suspending its flights from New York and Osaka, and in February it will drop one of its two weekly nonstop flights from Sydney. Meanwhile Air France is reducing the frequency of its Los Angeles to Papeete service from four times a week to three. Almost 10 percent fewer seats are now available into French Polynesia than was the case a year ago.

Airlines worldwide are feeling the pressure of rising fuel costs and a slowing world economy, and it becomes a vicious circle when fare increases and fuel surcharges reduce passenger demand even more. The Pacific franc is tied to the euro making French Polynesia an expensive destination for dollar area visitors. None of this is likely to change soon.

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