From UNESCO recognition to a global digital campaign featuring real families and the 50th anniversary of the signature ‘overwater bungalow’, Tahiti has much to talk about at WTM London 2017.
Firstly, a major, long-term project for the Islands of Tahiti became a reality on July 23, with the official recognition of the Taputapuatea marae, a highly sacred site on the island of Raiatea, as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Additionally, the Islands of Tahiti, birthplace of the signature overwater bungalow, are celebrating 50 years of this unique accommodation that helped put the destination on the travel map.
In 1967, the Islands of Tahiti became the first destination in the world to take accommodation into uncharted waters, building traditional pandanus leaf thatched-roof bungalows or villas over the islands’ lagoons in a move that cemented the Tahiti as one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations.
The overwater bungalow was invented by three Americans from California, who had moved to the islands in the 1960s.
Hugh Kelley, Muk McCallum and Jay Carlisle were known as the Bali Hai Boys and had fallen in love with French Polynesia and all that it had to offer. They opened hotels on both Moorea and Raiatea.
Bringing Tahiti right up to date, Tahiti Tourisme launched a global social media campaign earlier this year, called Two Stories One Mana.
The campaign launched as a global audition to cast real couples and families as the new stars of a digital video series, promoting the Islands of Tahiti and the presence of mana, the term used to describe life force and spirit.
Inviting over 400 auditions worldwide on social media, three couples or families, including the Gobbetts from Maidenhead in the UK, were chosen as the new stars, spending 10 days in the islands in June on a fully hosted adventure.