Earlier this week we reported that Tahiti’s occupancy numbers were in the basement at 20 percent. Tahitipresse now reports that cruise ship Star Flyer will stop its sailings out of Tahiti next year. This represents a loss of about 7,000 visitors and 7,000 tickets for Air Tahiti Nui annually. The 70-passenger, four-masted sailing ship Star Flyer offered 10- and 11-night cruises among Tahitian islands
This has inspired Tahiti’s new tourism minister, Jacqui Drollet, to call for the country to enter the cruise ship business by acquiring its own vessel.
"The ships are leaving us one after the other," said Drollet said, referring to December's departure of the 670-passenger Tahitian Princess, which had been based in Papeete since December 2002.
The loss of the Tahitian Princess and the Star Flyer leaves one foreign-flag cruise ship based in Papeete for regular cruises— the 330-passenger M/S Paul Gauguin, which celebrated its 10th anniversary of cruising in French Polynesia early last year.
In 2008, the cruise ship sector started out strong for Tahiti and then fizzled. Overall, 2008 posted a gain of 1.7 percent over 2007, but December produced 2,937 cruise ship passengers, a drop of 734, or 20 percent. The cruise ship sector accounted for 22 percent of all Tahiti's tourists last year, so this downward trend is critical for the country.