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PAPE‘ETE, Tahiti, (Tahipresse, April 3) - Tahiti Tourisme and
Air Tahiti Nui officials traveled to Osaka and Tokyo this week for a series of
meetings with travel agents to try and boost a sluggish Japanese visitor volume
for Tahiti and its neighboring islands.

The war in Iraq combined with Japan’s continued economic
crisis to produce disappointing numbers of visitors to Tahiti during the first
weeks of 2003.

But Tahiti’s significant drop in Japanese visitors "is
the same for all destinations generally visited by the Japanese," Air
Tahiti Nui CEO Nelson Lévy said on April 2 in Osaka.

Speaking to some 100 travel agents selling Tahiti and her
islands as a destination, Lévy reminded his audience of Air Tahiti Nui’s
growth in the Japanese market.

"This market is very important for the development of
tourism in French Polynesia. This is a privileged clientele for French Polynesia’s
overall tourist services. For that reason, Air Tahiti Nui decided to increase
its flights to Japan, going from one flight a week in 1998 to two weekly flights
in 2000 and then to three weekly flights since 2002," he said.

Last year, before the Iraqi crisis heightened, there were
encouraging results with " a 40 percent increase in the number of
passengers on the Japanese route. ". That translated into 23,000 passengers
carried on that route, Air Tahiti Nui said.

Dany Panero, chief executive of Tahiti Tourisme, Tahiti’s
overseas promotional operation, emphasized the Japanese visitor’s important
economic contribution.

"The Japanese tourist spends about 30,000 French Pacific
francs (about US$275) per day and per person during a visit to French Polynesia.
That’s double what the average tourist spends."

Japanese visitors " adore over water bungalows. They also
make up an important clientele of young people on their honeymoon."

Toshikatsu Hashimoto, Tahiti Tourisme’s representative in
Japan, also spoke confidently about Tahiti’s advantages. "Certainly the
high standards among Japanese can pose a problem with the quality of service in
Tahiti. But that is compensated for by the welcome and friendliness of the
people of French Polynesia," he said.

Tahiti Tourisme and Air Tahiti Nui will continue their promotion
of Tahiti and her islands among Japanese travel agents on April 4 with a visit
to Tokyo. Meanwhile, members of Tahiti’s tourism industry are participating in
a big scuba-diving exhibition in order to attract a specialized market of
Japanese visitors.

April 4, 2003

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.com 

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