Here’s a quick quiz question: which group of five archipelagos in the South Pacific has more than 100 islands and covers an area the same size as Europe?
The answer is French Polynesia, or The Islands of Tahiti as the region of 118 islands is marketed in the UK. The biggest island Tahiti is the main gateway for international flights, although visitors normally spend their holidays on other islands, particularly the five-star big name resorts of Bora Bora.
Tahiti Tourisme held a series of trade workshops in the UK earlier this month to raise the destination’s profile, including hosting 45 agents at an event in London, as well as holding separate workshops for agencies Trailfinders and Black Tomato.
Sola Thomson, sales and marketing account manager for Tahiti Tourisme, said: “We really want to raise awareness of the lesser-known islands – everybody wants to go to Bora Bora.
“There are so many amazing islands with stunning accommodation, including Marlon Brando’s island [The Brando, Tetiaroa Private Island]. People know the name Tahiti but they’re not exactly sure where it is.
“There’s a lack of knowledge in the UK. The area is as large as Europe – flying between Tahiti and Marquesas islands takes four hours. People have no idea of the scale and we’re trying to get the knowledge out there.”
Tahiti welcomed 4,000 UK holidaymakers in 2015 and is set to surpass this total in 2016 as monthly arrival figures have been increasing year-on-year. The UK is the third biggest source market after France and Italy.
Local airline Air Tahiti Nui flies to Tahiti (Papeete) from Paris via Los Angeles. It also has interline agreements for through ticketing with Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines. Journey time from the UK is 22 hours.
Paul Gauguin Cruises specialises in voyages in French Polynesia with 10 or 11-night itineraries popular with British visitors.Regional sales manager Natalie Read added: “The majority of customers have never cruised before and want to experience the destinations. Brits normally want to cruise on their way back from Australia and New Zealand.
We can save them around £2,000pp compared with a land-based stay because we’re all-inclusive.”
The latest resort development will be the Conrad Bora Bora Nui (formerly a Hilton property) – due to reopen in March 2017 and another stepping stone to help the archipelagos better stand out on the map.