Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Paradise in peril: French Polynesia’s pursuit of luxury may not be sustainable

Dan Voellm, MRICS
A market in peril is rarely good news for investors. However, if the biggest challenge is the lack of supply and the opportunity comes with extensive government incentives the picture changes.

The natural beauty of French Polynesia’s five diverse archipelagos coupled with a rich culture present a unique travel and tourism experience. Who will be ready to capitalize on the next upcycle in the market as it emerges from the pandemic?


French Polynesia is a far-flung country of more than 118 islands grouped in 5 archipelagos in the South Pacific spread over an area comparable to the European Union. Home to a predominantly services economy, major industries include pearls, agricultural products and processing (vanilla, coconut products), fisheries and – tourism, at around 13% of GDP.

Visitor Arrivals

As a far-flung island destination, French Polynesia can only be accessed by air (or in smaller numbers by sea, which is uncommon, cruises aside). Given its location and political affiliation with France, the two main source markets are the US (mainly from the West Coast and historically Los Angeles) and France. Other Europeans markets, in particular from Italy, are strong in Mo’orea and in Bora Bora. Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia provide additional visitor arrivals from nearby, though not all are high-end tourists. From Asia, Japan used to be a strong feeder market in particular for honeymoon and scuba diving, reflect in a direct flight from Narita on Air Tahiti Nui. However, numbers started declining after the GFC and have not recovered since. China started to show some growth, however access and long flight distance, novelty of the destination and general availability of alternatives limited further pickup prior to the pandemic.

The article provides a comprehensive analysis of the tourism and hotel market of French Polynesia and suggestions for future investments and development. Topics covered in this article include:

  • Overview of French Polynesia, including history and culture
  • Access analysis and visitor arrivals of French Polynesia
  • Hotel supply and hotel performance analysis in French Polynesia
  • Challenges and opportunities of the hotel market in French Polynesia

Full article can be downloaded below. Happy reading!
Click to download PDF file