Operator transports clients 'Beyond' Tahiti

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LOS ANGELES--Tahiti Vacations found success promoting Tahiti as a hub for South Pacific vacations.

Although Tahiti still attracts the bulk of business for the tour operator, its sales for the 3-year-old Tahiti and Beyond program keep growing, according to Ken Jordan, Tahiti Vacations executive vice president.

Tahiti/New Zealand is the best seller in the Tahiti and Beyond program, but the Tahiti/Easter Island product, introduced last year, has provided the biggest surprise.

"It isproving to be a real coup, considering the size of the destination, and attracted more of a market than we thought it would," he said.

The company has nine Easter Island groups on the books for 1999, each averaging 25 persons, from museums, universities and associations. Easter Island, known for its monolithic statues, is a five-hour flight on Lan Chile from Tahiti and is equidistant from both Tahiti and Santiago.

About the same size as Moorea in French Polynesia, and with a population of only 3,000, the island previously was included only in South America programs, via Santiago.

Easter Island options include adding it as a three-night extension to any Tahiti package (starting at $799) or as a six-night package with three nights on Tahiti and three nights on Easter Island (from $1,799).

For 1999, the company plans to add a Tahiti/ New Caledonia combination, devoting a full page to the destination in a brochure that will be out later this year.

Tahiti, located about half way between the West Coast and Australia, is ideally situated to be a hub. "Nobody had tried to use the concept of Tahiti as a hub," said Jordan. "We try to stir people's imagination of what can be done: that you can combine Tahiti and Australia in a week's vacation," he said, adding that vacations can also be customized for the client.

Tahiti Vacations, owned by Air Tahiti, Tahiti's domestic airline, sold only a Tahiti product until 1995. That year, the company began diversifying, marketing new brochures promoting Australia/New Zealand motorcoach and independent stand-alone vacations.

All South Pacific operators offer such products, Jordan notes.

"We were too much like everyone else. We still sell these module packages but decided it was not the place to put emphasis," he explained.

In 1996, Tahiti Vacations changed course, creating Tahiti combination packages and marketing them under the name Tahiti and Beyond.

Packages include: Eight nights Tahiti/Cook Islands; six nights Tahiti/Easter Island, and nine nights Tahiti/Moorea/Fiji, all starting at $1,799, and eight nights Tahiti/Sydney, Australia, from $1,999. For Tahiti/New Zealand, there are two eight-night options: Tahiti/Auckland/Rotorua, starting at $2,099, and Tahiti with Christchurch and Queenstown, from $2,199.

All packages include roundtrip air from Los Angeles, accommodations, breakfast daily and sightseeing (seasonal supplements may apply).

Flights are with Air New Zealand, except the Tahiti-Easter Island segment, which is Lan Chile.

Jordan said that taking in an additional South Pacific destination can be added at little, if any, additional cost.

By way of example, he noted that a vacation in Tahiti and Moorea in French Polynesia plus the Cook Islands can be less expensive than a French Polynesia-only package with Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora-Bora.

Tahiti Vacations

Phone: (800) 553-3477

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