Far & Wide to unveil Tahiti, islands program

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MIAMI -- As Tahiti undergoes a growth spurt in hotels and infrastructure, Far & Wide Travel has taken serious notice of that faraway destination.

In February it will introduce a Tahiti program -- an offshoot of Swain Australia Tours, a Far & Wide operator that has offered Tahiti as a stopover in its Australia-New Zealand program since its founding 15 years ago.

The program will be branded Swain Tahiti and operated under Far & Wide's Pacific division, headed by Swain Australia founder and president Ian Swain.

"It's always been in the back of our Australia catalog as an extension," said Swain, "but more recently with the dramatic change in tourism infrastructure in Tahiti, we're seeing it as a great destination in itself."

According to Swain, recent incentive programs by the French government to encourage hoteliers to build and refurbish properties has led to a significant improvement in Tahiti's tourist offerings.

"The last three years there's been a tremendous surge in trained staff," said Swain. "It's a great destination for the North American traveler in both the luxury and the mid-markets."

The Swain Tahiti program is constructed on the model of Swain's Australia and New Zealand programs, which give customers the freedom to combine package components any way they want. Standard packages are offered but can be changed and recombined.

"We're covering all the islands," said Swain, "the Society Islands; the Tuamotus Islands, including Rangiroa; and the Marquesas, which are linked with the heritage of Easter Island and have similar sculptures to Easter Island. We also are offering Easter Island in the brochure."

The primary carriers for the program are Air Tahiti Nui and Air New Zealand.

A basic six-night package to Tahiti is priced from $1,239 per person, double occupancy, including air and accommodations at the Tiare Tahiti Hotel in Papeete.

Also available at higher prices are the Sofitel Maeva Beach, the Le Meridien Tahiti, the Tahiti Beachcomber and the Sheraton Tahiti.

There are similar vacation packages for Moorea, Bora-Bora, Huahine, Taha'a, Tikehau and the Marquesas. Easter Island also is available in the program.

A variety of cruise options are presented, including Bora Bora Cruises, the Paul Gauguin and the Windstar. Wedding packages and spa packages also are featured.

The Austral and Gambier islands are offered as custom tours, but Swain said there is little demand for them from U.S. travelers.

The brochure information will be available on line early in February at www.swaintahiti.com when the product is announced officially. Commission is 10%.

For information or reservations, call (800) 227-9246.

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