Trouble in paradise: experts' opinions on the current touristic situation in French Polynesia
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The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the main contributors to the decline in tourist numbers in French Polynesia as seen by tourism and hospitality professionals. Tourism being the main source of revenue for the French territory, a serious analysis of the current situation needs to be undertaken in order to analyse the potential contributors to that drastic decline. Opinions of hospitality and tourism experts are the foundation of this thesis. It is believed that they know better than anyone else what is the reason or reasons why tourism is doing poorly since the past seven years as they are dealing on daily basis with tourists and other tourism and hospitality organisations. The research uses a literature review based on the theory of destination competitiveness, tourism marketing mix and tourism strategic planning. Semi-structured interviews are used to interview the participants that agreed to take part in the research. Points of discussions are used to guide the interview between the researcher and the interviewee, which leaves room for other potential points of interests raised by the participants. The results show that the provision of air servicing seems to be the main problem within the tourism industry in French Polynesia. According to the participants, it is the main issue that needs to be addressed before anything else. Other issues identified include the poor level of advertising in the main markets, the lack of training for hospitality and tourism employees and the incongruity between price and product to name a few. The small sample size of participants may appear to be an issue, however the participants chosen have been working in the industry for more than ten years and are experts in their fields. Opinions ranging from the Assistant to the Minister of Tourism to five-star hotel managers to travel agency managing directors are presented, which reflects the high level of expertise of the participants. Their opinions are supported by the strategic plan presented in 2010 by the Ministry of Tourism of French Polynesia known as the C.O.S.T. Online travel forums such as the Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor have also been used to support ideas presented in this thesis.