Planning on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to one of the many dreamy island paradises of French Polynesia? Well, your options for doing so might soon get a tad more limited. The Pacific island nation has announced it will impose a tourist cap on foreign visitors.
The tourist cap is part of a sustainability push by the islands to focus on attracting fewer but ‘higher quality’ tourists. Called the ‘Fāri'ira'a Manihini 2027’, it’s a five-year plan that is aiming to combat over-tourism and preserve the country’s local cultures and natural beauty.
The cap will apparently limit the overall number of tourists per year to about one foreign traveller per resident, meaning that there will be an annual limit of 280,000 tourists.
And that isn’t all. The French Polynesian government has also vowed to prioritise visitors who arrive via local cruise companies on ships with fewer than 700 passengers – effectively signalling that ginormous cruise ships may not be welcome.
Back in 2019, French Polynesia welcomed around 300,000 visitors, which was its highest number ever. In other words, the new cap isn’t to combat overtourism yet. It’s more of a pre-emptive step to stop the islands from getting too popular.
Consisting of 121 islands and atolls, French Polynesia includes popular travel destinations Tahiti and Bora Bora. Home to several popular honeymoon spots, FP offers everything from hiking and snorkelling to overwater bungalows.
While planning for more sustainable tourism might be an inconvenience for some travellers, it’s ultimately a good thing. After all, if French Polynesia’s natural beauty spots and local cultures are preserved and its economy is kept healthy, that’ll undoubtedly both benefit locals and ensure it’s a top-tier destination in the long run.
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