’La ora na and maeva. That’s the Tahitian way of saying “hello” and “welcome.” And with twice as many megayachts expected to visit the idyllic Society Islands before, during and after the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2021, Tahiti is busy rolling out the welcome mat.
Tourism officials there have joined forces with local yachting professionals to create Tahiti Tourisme Superyacht Cluster to promote the islands as a niche megayacht market. Last fall, members of the group – whose founders include yacht service companies Tahiti Superyacht Support, Tahiti Yacht Services and Tahiti Océan, as well as Tahiti Private Expeditions – traveled to the Monaco and Fort Lauderdale boat shows to promote the destination.
Two airlines now offer year-round services to Tahiti-Faa’s international airport. In October, United Airlines began offering three flights a week from San Francisco, its largest hub; and French Bee, an economy carrier, began in May offering flights on a new Airbus 350 from Paris Orly via San Francisco.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Air Tahiti Nui is renewing its fleet. The Tahitian airline’s first of four new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft began service in early November, offering 30 business seats and 32 economy seats.
The sixth season of Bravo’s reality show “Below Deck”, which premiered Oct. 2, was filmed in Tahiti and Moorea. The season follows Capt. Lee Rosbach, Chief Stew Kate Chastain and a new crew as they host charter guests aboard the 185-foot M/Y Seanna. The show features some of the islands’ top attractions – hiking trails, waterfalls, aquatic sea life, restaurants, land excursions and the serene, crystal-clear waters of the area’s dreamlike lagoons.
A must-see event for all ocean lovers, according to Tahiti Tourisme, is Hawaiki Nui Va’a, the ultimate outrigger canoe race. More than 2,000 canoes line up for this 80-mile race, which takes place over three days in November. Hundreds of fans – on land and at sea – cheer on the canoes as they race from Huahine to Raiatea and Taha’a, then on to the finish line at Matira Beach on Bora Bora. The islanders host the athletes and their teams, friends and families, and evenings are filled with barbecue parties, song and dance in traditional Polynesian style.
In September, a taste of that Polynesian lifestyle was on display at the Monaco Yacht Show, where Tahiti Tourisme helped sponsor the Asia Superyacht Night. Under starry skies at the Novotel Monte Carlo, more than 200 guests were greeted with Tiare Tahiti flowers and entertained by traditional Tahitian musicians and dancers from the Hei Tamure Show.
While there, delegates from the Tahiti Superyacht Cluster discussed participating in the next Mediterranean Yacht Broker Association (MYBA) Charter Show in Barcelona in late April. They also met with the Monaco Yachting Cluster to discuss projects, including a “Road to the America’s Cup” event in Tahiti this year or next.
In October, Cluster members traveled to the Fort Lauderdale boat show, where Christelle Holler of Tahiti Private Expeditions was a featured speaker at the International Superyacht Society’s annual meeting. While at FLIBS, the Tahiti delegation advanced several projects that had been initiated at the Monaco show.
The Tahiti and Monaco superyacht clusters are expected to seal a partnership in March, and a superyacht study and video shoot may also be in the works, according to Tahiti Tourisme.