Nelson Levy, 58, founder of Air Tahiti
Nui, died June 4 after suffering a heart attack in his home in
Described as one
of French Polynesia's tourism pioneers, Levy took over management
of the Tahiti Tourism Promotion Office in early 1992. He revamped
that office, converting it into the operation known today as Tahiti
Tourisme. The Papeete-based tourism office promotes the destination
Levy founded Air
Tahiti Nui in 1996 and left Tahiti Tourisme in 1998, the year the
airline launched service to Los Angeles, to become its CEO. The
carrier, headquartered in Papeete, now flies nonstop to Los Angeles
daily and, as of 2005, nonstop to New York (Kennedy) three times a
On June 1, Levy
launched his newest venture, Tahiti's largest virtual travel
agency, called easyTahiti.com, designed to make it easy to book
travel to Tahiti. Levy had celebrated by hosting a barbecue in his
home for the easyTahiti.com staff a few hours before his heart
Nick Panza, Air
Tahiti Nui's vice president, the Americas, said Levy "will be
deeply missed. He was an industry leader, visionary and innovator,
persevering against many odds to found Air Tahiti Nui and make
Tahiti the tourism destination it is today."
Gaston Tong Sang,
the French Polynesia president, said at the presidential Web site,
"It would be difficult to summarize in a few words the overall
career and life of such a man appreciated by everyone for his
kindness, attentiveness, his devotion and his courage."
Levy is survived
by his wife Vaea and two daughters Vaiarava and Poerava.
To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail
to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].