French Polynesia will limit the number of tourists

French Polynesia will limit the number of tourists

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(CNN) — The picturesque islands of French Polynesia may be harder to visit as the region announces a new plan for sustainable tourism.

As part of the five-year strategic mission Fāri’ira’a Manihini 2027 (FM27), the government of French Polynesia aims to set a target of one foreign tourist per local resident per year of around 280,000.

The South Pacific country includes popular destinations such as Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti. Its capital, Papeete, is located in Tahiti.

It is unclear whether the new visitor restriction will apply to French citizens.

French Polynesia is a French territory, and therefore anyone with a French passport, including those living in Guadeloupe, Guya, etc., will not be considered an overseas visitor by law.

Document FM27 recognizes that tourism is an important source of employment and income for residents. However, the visitor limit and other changes will bring a more thoughtful type of tourism.

According to this plan, the government aims to “diversify different types of visitors, make it possible to combine economic growth with environmental protection, the quality of life of the population and the appreciation of our heritage.” It also mentions encouraging visitors from various parts of the world.

The stated ultimate goal is “the transition to an inclusive and sustainable tourism model.”

However, it may seem strange that a country is considering restricting visitors when overtourism is not a problem there.

According to the World Bank, French Polynesia received nearly 300,000 visitors in 2019, the highest ever. But this long-term plan may have been influenced by other similar world models.

The Central Asian kingdom of Bhutan is often cited as an example of what can happen when tourism is carefully and thoughtfully controlled by the government. Currently, the country charges a $200 per person per day “tourist tax” which prevents all but the most dedicated travelers from visiting. In turn, the money from the fee is used to support local communities by providing education, healthcare and more.
Meanwhile, many popular destinations in Europe have been forced to do so apply stricter measures in order to fight against the influx of tourists in recent years.

The Italian city of Venice has suffered the most from overtourism. It has instituted measures such as a daily tax on day visitors (to offset the shortfall in revenue from hotel stays) and has cracked down on properties listed on Airbnb to stem the tide of travelers.

Beach photo in French Polynesia via Getty Images

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