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Repeat visitors from U.S. may buy one ticket, get one free

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, June 12, 2008) - Air Tahiti Nui has begun celebrating its 10th anniversary of flying with a special promotion of one free ticket for a ticket purchased by a repeat visitor from the U.S.

With proof of a past visit to Tahiti, anyone purchasing a round trip economy ticket qualifies for a free ticket for a companion.

The "Return to Paradise" promotion, announced in a June 2 media press release in Los Angeles, is valid for bookings made by June 20 for Air Tahiti Nui flights from Los Angeles and New York to Tahiti between August 18 and September 24.

The promotion for travel in the middle of what is normally Tahiti’s busiest tourist visitor period of the year was mentioned Tuesday in a Travel Watch article posted on The Wall Street Journal’s Internet Web site.

The promotion also comes at a moment when Tahiti’s tourism industry is struggling. During the first four months of this year, there were 8.9 percent fewer overseas visitors than during the same period a year ago. This year’s volume was 60,658 visitors, or 5,952 fewer than the 66,610 visitors a year ago.

The volume of visitors from the U.S. is down 3.5 percent from the first four months last year--19,561 vs. 20,271, a drop of 710 visitors.

Air Tahiti Nui Is requiring proof of previous travel to Tahiti in one of two ways. Passengers can show a copy of their passport page with a French Polynesia Immigration Department stamp. Or they can show a photo of themselves at a recognizable landmark in Tahiti and Her Islands, such as "an over-water bungalow," according to the media release.

"The anniversary special is open to anyone who has been to Tahiti before, regardless of carrier used for their previous travel or length of time since their last visit," the release states.

A satisfaction study recently released by the French Polynesia Statistical Institute showed that 87 percent of overseas visitors surveyed in 2006 were convinced they would return one day to Tahiti. But in 2006, an average of only 17 percent of Tahiti’s visitors returned. That average included 29 percent of French visitors and about 10 percent of North American visitors.

The maximum stay of 10 days is allowed under the Air Tahiti Nui "Return to Paradise" promotion. The traveling companion "is only responsible for government taxes and fuel surcharges of approximately US$317. Both passengers (paid and free) must travel together on the whole journey."

The cost of the Los Angeles-Papeéte roundtrip economy ticket is US$1,348 without taxes. The New York-Papeéte roundtrip economy ticket costs US$1,668.

Air Tahiti Nui’s first flight was from Papeéte to Los Angeles on November 20, 1998. The airline was founded in 1996. It now has five Airbus A340-300 planes that fly from Tahiti to Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo and Osaka.

During the first four months of this year, Air Tahiti Nui operated at total of 644 flights, carrying 131,717 overall passengers who filled an averaged 69.6 percent of the 189,383 available seats, according to the French Civil Aviation Office in Tahiti.

The airline won the Skytrax 200Y World Airline Awards for "Best Airline" and "Best Cabin Staff" in the Pacific region. Global Traveler’s "Best of 2005" reader poll ranked Air Tahiti Nui the second "Best airline in the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand," and sixth "Best Onboard Service" in the worldwide category.

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