Tahiti Time: Why these islands are keen to avoid mass tourism

Slow Travel Tahiti

Chasing visitor numbers can be a cyclical trap of reliance and, at its worst, lead to overtourism – but for some destinations, now is the right time to break that model and focus on fewer, more engaged, longer-stay arrivals, especially if you look like paradise and want to preserve it.

Imagine if a destination covered an area the size of western Europe, yet only achieved visitor stats of 300,000 a year? You’d wonder what was wrong with the place, right? Or if you were in charge, sack the marketing agency? Venice gets that number of visitors in just a couple of days.

But how refreshing is it to talk to someone who doesn’t want to grow tourism? I know that might also sound weird though, after what the global tourism industry has been through, especially if your destination has waters like you’ve never seen, fascinating culture and history, and overwater villas to watch the sunset from. Surely you’d want as many people as possible to see it?

Much like paradisiacal counterpart and overwater-villa cousin the Maldives, much of this destination’s glorious territory is also water, yet it gets only around a quarter of the Maldives’ arrivals.

Welcome to The Islands of Tahiti, or French Polynesia: let’s call it simply Tahiti from here on in.

Unlike the powers that be over in the Indian Ocean, those in Tahiti are not hell-bent on numbers and building ever more resorts on remote islands. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to the Maldives more times than anyone human deserves. And those resorts are lovely, but it can sometimes feel as if development is unchecked).

Instead, Tahiti is looking to promote slower tourism, longer stays and travel that integrates as much of the local experience into the trip as possible – and yes, to “cap” that arrival figure at 300,000, once things really get going again.

This is an excerpt from an article by April Hutchinson, originally published by TTG Media.

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