Polynesia has been facing a drop in hotel capacity for two years. Results, for the tour operators it is sometimes necessary to juggle with the availabilities.
“With the postponements of the two previous summers and the drastic reduction in hotel capacities, we are already extremely busy” explains Hélion de Villeneuve, Managing Director of Austral Lagons. Indeed, the destination has been facing several hotel closures since 2020. Among them, the Intercontinental Moorea, The Tahiti Ia Ora Beach Resort (ex-Méridien), or the Sofitel Bora Bora. “The Intercontinental represents more than 40% of Moorea’s hotel capacity, it’s problematic“ he specifies.
Tour operators offer in catalog essentially the triptych Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora. “We find ourselves in a kind of bottleneck” analyzes Gilbert Cisneros, CEO of Exotismes. On the side of Austral Lagons, we are starting to adapt the programs: “Moorea is located opposite Tahiti and can be reached in 30 minutes by boat. We now offer Moorea as a day trip and less as a stay given the difficulties in finding capacity” emphasizes Hélion de Villeneuve.
Solutions for travelers
There are many alternatives: “It is possible to discover Moorea aboard a cabin catamaran or modify the itineraries by going to Rangiroa or Huahine” launches Gilbert Cisneros. On the Beachcomber Tours side, on the other hand, for the moment the tour operator has not noticed any “particular problem“: “This phenomenon is not new, it has existed for two years. However, not being in a pre-covid context, we manage to manage.” adds Bruce McNamara, production manager of Beachcomber Tours before continuing.
“It is true that the inhabitants of Tahiti have been going to Moorea more since the crisis, which leads to additional competition.
It is indeed missing a large carrier on this island and the three remaining establishments Sofitel, Hilton and Manava are always full. These hotels deserve a little renovation, but being full, it’s complicated and suddenly there is a small drop in quality.”
Moreover, data from the Institute of Statistics of French Polynesia confirm this. In the 2nd quarter of 2021, sales to local customers achieved their best result since 2012 with 21,000 rooms sold over the period. Tourist hotels welcomed 10% of local customers, against 4% for international customers.
Air: 73% more seats compared to the summer 2021 season
If the archipelago is short of rooms, it will not lack air capacity for the high season. According to Tahiti Tourisme, the supply of seats between France and French Polynesia is “very strong growth during the summer season, since we observe 73% more seats compared to the summer 2021 season, and +19% compared to the summer 2019 season”.
The fact remains that Polynesian professionals have suffered from the crisis linked to covid-19 and weakened companies. “The restart was very complicated because the service providers could no longer withstand the shock. We had to restart the machine. We see a difference between the destinations which have always remained open such as the Dominican Republic and those which have closed their borders. .“says Hélion de Villeneuve.
“As in other destinations, there is still a lack of staff in hotels and service providers, and flight plans this winter are subject to adjustment” recognizes Bruce McNamara. Result: delays for requests are longer than before the pre-covid era. “It may take several weeks before we have an answer for a complete circuit”. adds the production manager of Beachcomber Tours. It will therefore be necessary to take these parameters into account to best optimize your next Polynesia file.
A few points of reference:
Since the beginning of the year, 70,225 tourists have stayed in French Polynesia, like in 2020 over the same period, while there were 220,000 in 2019. The average length of stay is up by 3.2 days to 21.1 days and the number of tourist overnight stays increased by 15% to 1.5 million. In the second quarter of 2021, the French Polynesia hotel portfolio offered 152,000 rooms for rent, compared to 14,000 in 2020 and 231,000 in 2019. The average occupancy factor stands at 35% with 8 hotels in Bora Bora and half of the establishments in Tahiti and Moorea closed between February and April.