French Polynesia tourism arrivals back to pre-Covid levels

Port of Uturoa in Raiatea, French Polynesia. PHOTO: Port Autonome de Papeete

French Polynesia’s tourism arrivals have returned to pre-Covid levels, with a specifically high spending by international visitors, latest statistics revealed.

Figures for the whole year 2022 show the number of international visitors to the French Pacific destination has reached about 219,000, the bulletin from the local statistical institute ISPF (Institut de la Statistique en Polynésie française) states.

It also assesses the total value of spending by this group to some 645 million Euros (US$699.7 million), which represents about five times the total export value of local products (125.7 million Euros/US$136.4 million) and confirms the tourism industry as French Polynesia’s main money generating sector, on a predominantly luxury high-end market positioning, the same bulletin stresses.

International tourists were spending most of their budget on accommodation and food, as well as domestic transport (air, road, sea).

North America (especially the U.S.) and mainland France were also confirmed as the two main source
markets with a cumulated 80 percent of total international tourism arrivals.

The main visited sites are the main island of Tahiti (Society Islands) where the only international airport of Tahiti-Faa’a is located, its sister island of Moorea and the iconic atoll of Bora-Bora.

In recent weeks and months, the destination has also benefited from celebrity-related buzz, with the visits of Beyonce, Britney Spears, visiting the exclusive private island of Tetiaroa, founded by Marlon Brando in the 1960s.

The 2022 total is expected to increase this year, with figures for 2023 estimated at some 236,000 international visitors, the same sources extrapolated.

French Polynesia’s President Moetai Brotherson recently told local media his goal was for French Polynesia to reach 600,000 visitors per year in ten years’ time.