CHINA, FRANCE DISCUSS TAHITI TOURISM MARKET

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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Oct. 11) - French High Commissioner Anne Boquet discussed Tahiti's potential Approved Destination Status (ADS) with a visiting Chinese tourism official Monday.

Ms. Boquet officially welcomed Mr. Zhang Xiquin, vice president of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), at her Papeéte official residence. Xiquin met later Monday with French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru, but no information was provided about the meeting.

Xiquin is part of a delegation from China that arrived Monday for the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) board meeting on Thursday and the 16th SPTO Tourism Ministers Council meeting on Friday.

The goal of the meeting involving the high commissioner was to discuss the ADS project, which has already been negotiated between the French and Chinese governments, producing an agreement in principle, Boquet's office announced later.

However, before the ADS agreement can be formally approved and visas issued for individual Chinese tourists wishing to visit Tahiti, more technical negotiations are necessary between the French Embassy in China and Chinese government officials, Boquet's office said.

The high commissioner said the ADS project would create a very interesting tourism potential for French Polynesia.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, Australia's Tourism and Transport Forum recently called on its tourism industry to provide "tourism experiences" that cater to the Chinese market. That followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between China and Australia for an ADS agreement, which is hoped to lure millions of Chinese tourists to Australian shores.

With a population of 1.8 billion and a rapidly growing middle class, China is expected to have 100 million people traveling overseas on holidays by 2025. Australia currently welcomes 285,000 Chinese tourists yearly, but the number is forecast to grow four times of 1.2 million by 2015, which China becoming Australia's biggest tourist market.

There are no direct flights from China to Tahiti today. However, Air Tahiti Nui operates three weekly Tokyo-Papeéte flights, one of which is via Osaka, and three weekly non-stop Sydney-Papeéte flights.

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