After nearly three years of border closures due to COVID-19, international visitors were exposed to a world without tourism. With that came a change in tourist expectations, looking for safe destinations, away from crowded destinations where they could live out experiences, rediscover preserved nature, meet people, and understand the culture through more extended stays.
Meet Jean-Marc Mocellin, Chief Executive Officer for Tahiti Tourisme. He has been at the helm of Tahiti Tourisme since April 2020. He is passionate about sustainable tourism in The Islands of Tahiti and is leading efforts to develop a strategy for the social and economic development of communities, the protection of the environment, and the promotion of culture through tourism.
“Being isolated became synonymous with preservation, and our products (human-size hotels in bungalows, Tahitian Guesthouses, cruises, etc.) scattered on many islands are perfect for intimacy. Positioning The Islands of Tahiti as a “Slow Tourism” destination, far from the crowds of mass tourists, where the traveler can take time to rediscover the essentials, appreciate new experiences, and meet new people is paramount. The Islands of Tahiti aims to become a leading destination for “Slow Tourism,” he said.
“With this strategy in mind, we participated in the Blue Climate Summit, which was quite an eye-opener meeting and listening to top specialists in the field of sustainability. Our Tahiti Tourisme top management then joined the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) training program for a month and graduated to better understand where to start and how to embark on such a huge and long-term process.”
TOURISM DEVELOPMENT PLAN (FM27)
Mocellin shared how the Ministry of Tourism, in cooperation with the public and private sector, had defined a strategy, “Fariira’a Manihini 2027,” which sets the goal of tourism recovery focusing on inclusive and sustainable development.
He further noted that the strategy that is about to be submitted to French Polynesia assembly, aimed to position French Polynesia as a leader in sustainable and inclusive tourism. It also sets a clear framework within which to operate. The strategy resulted from comprehensive consultations with the public, industry stakeholders and professionals who were invited to contribute to this important process through sharing their views on what kind of tourism development they wanted.
Mocellin mentioned that along with the tourism development plan, discussions had also taken place to draft an action plan to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to determine the carbon footprint of the tourism sector in French Polynesia to identify the work to be done and target the shortfalls. With assistance from ADEME (French National Agency for the Environment Energy Management) and SDE (Energy Service of French Polynesia), we are commissioning specialists in this field to carry out a comprehensive Audit. Once done, we will be able to set concrete objectives and propose specific actions and recommendations at all levels of the tourism industry,” he said.
Mocellin believes that for his country’s tourism sector can achieve Goal 1 on Prosperous Economies of the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework, they would need to consider the following: