French Polynesia wants to limit tourist numbers

French Polynesia wants to limit tourist numbers
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(CNN) — The beautiful islands of French Polynesia might be harder to visit as the region announces a new sustainable tourism plan.

As part of the five-year strategic mission Fāri’ira Manihini 2027 (FM27), the French Polynesian government wants to set an annual cap of one foreign tourist per inhabitant – about 280,000.

The South Pacific country includes popular travel destinations such as Bora Bora, Mo’orea and Tahiti. The capital Papeete is in Tahiti.

It is unclear if the new visitor cap will apply to French nationals.

French Polynesia is a territory of France and therefore anyone with a French passport – including those living in Guadeloupe, Guyana and the like – would not be legally considered an overseas visitor.

The FM27 document recognizes that tourism is an important source of employment and income for residents. However, the visitor cap and other changes will bring a more thoughtful way of tourism.

As part of this plan, the government aims to “diversify the different types of visitors, to make it possible to reconcile economic growth with the preservation of the environment, the quality of life of the population and the appreciation of our heritage”. It is also mentioned that visitors from different parts of the world are encouraged.

The declared end goal is the “transition to an inclusive and sustainable tourism model”.

However, it may seem odd that the country is contemplating capping visitors when overtourism is not an issue there.

According to the World Bank, French Polynesia welcomed around 300,000 visitors in 2019, the highest number ever. But this long-term plan was likely influenced by other such models around the world.

The Central Asian kingdom of Bhutan is often cited as an example of what can happen when tourism is carefully and prudently controlled by the government. Currently, the country a $200 per person per day “City Tax” which discourages all but the most dedicated traveler from visiting. In turn, money from the fee is used to support local communities by providing education, health care and more.
By now, many popular travel destinations across Europe have had to introduce stricter measures in recent years to combat the flow of tourists.

The Italian city of Venice is one of the cities most affected by overtourism. It has introduced measures like a daily tax for day-trippers (to make up for lost revenue from hotel stays) and cracked down on Airbnb-listed properties to stem the tide of travellers.

Photo of French Polynesian Beach via Getty Images

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